God gives us great gifts. I know that in my head and in my heart and love that we get to celebrate it every year at Christmas. I love this season for the fun of sharing the heart of Christmas with my kids and getting to see other enjoy gifts I have made or purchased specifically for them. I love that kindness can be seen so much more readily as I interact with people (though I know that varies from moment to moment). And I love that although I've read the Christmas story many many times, when I reread it each year, I learn new things about myself and about who God is.
This year, I've been struck again and again by the many examples of obedience that are illustrated in the story of Christ's birth. Mary hearing Gabriel tell her what was about to happen and responding with an obedient heart. And they hadn't heard from God in many many years, but when told she'd found favor, she embraced it. I can only imagine how scary that must have been. And Joseph being told that his soon to be bride was pregnant and then being told that it was God's son and he was to still marry her must have seemed crazy at the time. I'm sure there are many in his family who shunned them, but he was obedient to what God told him to do. The wise men traveled from so far away following a star! And it's not like they saw something on the news and hopped on a plane to see Jesus. They were told to go by God, they traveled over land in what I'm sure was no easy journey to worship the beautiful baby boy. And Jesus himself left Heaven because his father said it must be done and He loved us so much he became a baby to make it happen. None of it was easy, but out of love and faith, people again and again chose to follow God's plan and now we celebrate each year the wonders that occurred so long ago.
Obedience can be really hard, especially when it goes against so much of the culture we live in. But as I read the Christmas story again, I'm reminded of the incredible gifts that can come to us and the world when we allow God to do great things though us.