Unwrap Jesus: When Christmas Isn't What You Expected
Bonnie Gray is author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, garnering starred review praise from Publisher's Weekly, named as one of PW's top 6 notable new religion authors. Bonnie is a featured contributor at (in)courage and her writing is nationally syndicated, spotlighted by Relevant Magazine, Catalyst Leadership, Today's Christian Woman, and Christianity Today. A UCLA graduate, Bonnie has been a missionary, ministry entrepreneur and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. Bonnie serves up shots of faith for the daily grind on her blog Faith Barista.com. Bonnie lives in Northern California with her husband Eric and their two sons.
- 2011 Dec 22
If you're struggling with unexpected stops on the journey of faith this Christmas, God has special message of hope for us.
I didn't think I'd end up where I am today.
I'm writing my first book.
And it's harder than I thought.
There are so many ways to tell a story, to make a point. Which way is best and what if I chose the wrong way?
How does a girl who was never given a voice think she could suddenly start writing anything beautiful or worthy of print?
These are voices from the past. But, still they buzz around me, as I tap-tap-tap my way forward.
My search for God's guidance really isn't about a book after all.
Because every year, the journey to find direction and guidance is always present in each of us.
We may be traveling through different journeys -- maybe through joblessness and disappointments or maybe through the excitement of new relationships or opportunities ahead. We face the same obstacles: which way should we go and what if this journey is too much for me?
The steps ahead aren't clear, but we can't stay put.
We sense God calling us to go. We are compelled to move out and see.
We share one thing in common. It makes us sojourners: God keeps our hope alive.
When the Star Paused
I think of the wise men. How ecstatic they were to discover the star back home in the East! What joy there was in the anticipation, as they made preparations, checklists and geared up for the adventure ahead.
But, I wonder how they felt when the star stopped above Jerusalem -- when they met King Herod and no one in town even had an inkling of the good news. The star was actually on pause. But, they didn't know it.
Are you finding yourself at a pause along the journey of faith -- where you wonder too if where you are, is where God wants you?
Be assured. God has not forgotten your way. Just like the star stopped at Jerusalem, until the wise men received new information, they stayed and waited. They had questions and yes, I imagine perhaps they considered turning back too. But, they didn't.
God was faithful.
"After [the wise men] heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed."Matthew 2:9-10
The grand finale of Christmas is the scene at the manger. When the star finally moved out again to lead them to Bethlehem, the wise men eventually found what they were looking for. Different timeframes have been offered by scholars, but the journey to find baby Jesus took the wise men took from one month to two years.
They walked that journey one day at a time.
They didn't know how long or where it would lead them.
They only knew one thing: they had to follow.
And they followed in the dark.
We can only imagine what the everyday challenges and triumphs were.
As much as we'd prefer traveling by day when everything is crystal clear, we make our biggest strides in the walk of faith --- at night.
No matter what, the wise men kept their gifts safe -- and oh, this is my favorite part of the Christmas story this year. They presented their gifts to the new King and I can imagine what joy there was to finally lay it at Jesus cute little feet.
A Royal Baby's Registry
There's a baby registry echo'ing in the Christmas story. What gift are you keeping safe with you this year for Him?
Gold -- a tribute of something you've received this year?
Frankincense -- a special prayer to offer to Him? (Frankincense was an incense used for worship. In Revelations 8:4, God tells us our prayers rise as fragrant incense to Him.) "And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand."
Myrrh -- a loss or sorrow you can share with Jesus. This too is an offering to Him. It's ultimately why Jesus became God-With-Us, taste pain so we can have hope beyond the dying.
As we walk these final days into Christmas, remember we have what it takes for the journey.
We have a beautiful star moving within us. Jesus.
Keep following. No matter where you find yourself on this journey. It might not look the way you expected. Faith still leads us. We can keep walking ahead, friends.
Smile. Jesus is our hope. And He is alive in us again this Christmas once again.
As I wrestled with words this month, I realized the gift I can offer Him this year is my voice, come what may. I may find myself waiting for guidance, but I have the final destination in mind: Jesus. Together, we can unwrap Jesus this Christmas and encourage each other in the days ahead. Merry Christmas, friend!
Where are you on the journey of faith this Christmas?
What gift will you offer to Him this year?
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By Bonnie Gray, the FaithBarista serving up shots of faith for everyday life.
Bonnie Gray is an inspiring Christian writer and blogger, offering encouragement to keep faith fresh in the daily grind. Her writing springs from the belief that the beauty of faith often takes place when life goes off script. Bonnie is the Founder of FaithBarista.com and featured writer for Hallmark subsidiary DaySpring's (in)Courage. Bonnie is currently working on her debut book, due to release in 2013 by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing. Bonnie is a native Californian living in the heart of Silicon Valley with her best friend Hubby, wrangling their two heaven-sent boys on the homestead.
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