This post has become a tradition of mine, I repost it every year as a reminder to myself and hopefully you that regardless of what this past year has been you still have a future to look forward to. This also marks my hiatus from social media, I spend the rest of this time with family and subtract myself form the constant noise of social chatter. I will post again on Dec. 31st with a review of my favorite photographs from 2013, but until then I hope you enjoy the following essay and I pray you have blessed and very Merry Christmas.
The end of another year approaches and if your like me you begin to reflect on this previous year. You look back on what you accomplished, what you failed to get done, what went good, what went bad, promises kept, promises broken, goals reached, and failures encountered. You tally them up and hope that when its all said and done your positives outweigh your negatives. Hopefully all accounts are in the black with nothing in the red. You look back and either sigh or smile, either way its over now nothing to be done with it. Next year is around the corner the only question is what will you do as this year starts?
If the previous year has been successful then your probably optimistic about what will come in this next year. If the year hasn’t been all you hope then the look forward is a little harder. A little more uncertain. If you couldn’t do it this last year, how can you possibly do it this next year? You gave this past year all you had yet the things you hoped for still didn’t happen. Promises are still left unfulfilled, goals not yet obtained. Reflection over such a past year can make the next seem big and scary. Maybe you should quit, move to something else. Maybe you were a fool to even try. Now you face another year ending without reaching your desired end. What will people say? What will they think? What will be whispered behind your back? Embarrassment creeps in and you feel like a total and complete failure.
Others have done what your doing and it took months, a year at most. Yet here you are still beating your head against the same walls. No progress has been made. No sense of accomplishment. Maybe your not good enough. Maybe you’ve been fooling yourself. Maybe it’s time to just throw in the towel and forget it. After all its the end of the year. The time when books are finalized, records closed, things shut down. You could just quit and no one would notice. It would be safe, easy, and from your perspective the smart thing to do. Why carry the disappointments of this past year into a new one? Seems the smart and safe answer is to quit.
Its not an answer your particularly happy with. In fact it makes you feel a little sick to think of it. But what choice do you have? What could you possible do in this next year that couldn’t have been done in the previous? It seems the decision has been made for you. Nothing to do now but accept it. The year ends in a few days and that all there is to it. Yet just before the year ends. Just before you reach that last day you encounter The Birth. Births always represent new beginnings. No one looks at a new baby and sees failure. When a baby is born all that is seen is promise. Promise of great things, better things. Births are celebrated. A fresh start, a fresh perspective. The Birth is very special. It has been celebrated for two thousand years. The Birth reset the calendar. We went from BC (Before Christ) to AD (Anno Domini latin for the year of our lord). Everything is measured from The Birth. The Birth represents all the hope and possibility for the future. Historians tell us that The Birth actually was earlier in the year. Somewhere during the spring or summer. For me though I think the end of the year is the perfect time to celebrate The Birth. Right when books are being closed, accounts finalized, and records put away The Birth signals the way for something new to come.
What did the angels say that day? Don’t be afraid. What great way to start the message. Fear is dead. Why? What could have possibly destroyed fear? The Birth of good news and great joy. Hope is rekindled, the future looks brighter. Good news and great joy have been made possible by The Birth. This news, this joy, it wasn’t reserved for a few. Not made available for only a select group of individuals. No instead The Birth was for all people. Happy people. Sad people. Rich people. Poor people. Young people. Old people. People with hope. People without hope. Good news and great joy came because of The Birth. Who was born? Why is The Birth good news and great joy? Because The Birth was a savior.
A savior was born. Born to save from hopelessness. Born to save from fear. Born to save the hurting, the broken, the lonely. The Birth of a savior erases the past. Resets the clock. From The Birth forward is opportunity, progress, favor, and purpose. The Birth brings hope that salvation is obtainable. Salvation from my mistakes, failures, pain, sorrow, even salvation from myself. The Birth of a savior makes room to start over. To begin anew forgetting what happened before and looking to what is ahead waiting for me.
Don’t be afraid. Good news and great joy for all people. For unto you is born a savior…
But how do I find Him? Where is this savior? Where did The Birth occur? In a mansion? No. If it was a mansion only the rich could enter. In a palace? No. A palace would require you were born of a certain blood line. In an inn? No. An inn would require payment to enter. The Birth was in a manger. A place where animals were kept over night. Open ended with just a roof and barely that. The wind can blow in, it smells like animals, and its not exactly the cleanest place. What it is though is accessible. Anyone can enter. Doesn’t matter if your rich or poor. Famous or infamous. No VIP pass is required. The manger made The Birth open for anyone willing to enter. The Birth is accessible. The Birth can touch the lives of anyone willing to give access. The Birth in a manager means that anyone can come in to the presence of a savior.
Ever wondered why the savior even went through The Birth? Why not just come to earth riding on lightning? He could have come down in a whirlwind and a crack of thunder. Light flashes, the earth shakes, and when the dust settles there stands God on the earth. He could have. It wasn’t impossible. Would have been much more dramatic. Cool special effects and a amazing light show. He could have, but He didn’t. Instead He arrived through The Birth. Small, fragile, helpless. Like any baby, the savior was totally dependent on others to care for Him. Why? To be approachable. To be accessible. Mostly though to be like you. To go through what you go through. The Birth means God, the creator, understands what its like to live as a creation. Now when you say it hurts, He understands because of The Birth. When you say I’m afraid, He understands because of The Birth. When you say I need to be held, He understands because of The Birth.
The Birth made God man, so man and God could talk on the same level. Understand the same fears, hopes, desires, pains, joys, sorrows, failures, and triumphs. Now God and man can communicate. That in itself was good. To know that through The Birth God now knows what you feel. It was good but to God it was not good enough. The Birth was the beginning but the plan went beyond that. He didn’t want to just understand us. He became man so that He could takes us from our place of limitation to a place of unlimited possibility. He wanted to take us from a place of being subjects to a place of being kings. We would never get there on our own, so He started the process for us with The Birth.
The Birth began the path to the cross. From the cross to the tomb. From the tomb to Hell. From Hell back to the tomb. Out of the tomb to live in the hearts of man. How does He get there? Through your new birth. The reset button on your life. The point when past is erased and your future is given. Your new birth which is celebrated in Heaven. Again you can hear angels say, “Don’t be afraid, there’s good news and great joy.” Now God lives in us. Old is replaced with new. Broken is replaced with restored. Pain is replaced with healing. Sorrow is replaced with joy. Failure is replaced with favor. It began with The Birth of a savior. It comes full circle with a new birth of your heart. The gap between God and man is closed. Now instead of facing a uncertain future alone, shadowed by the past, we have a redemption for our yesterday and hope for our future.
Through design we celebrate The Birth mere days before the end of year. It is at the perfect point on our calendar. The Birth now stands between the beginning of a new year facing us and the ending of an old one behind us. Whatever happened this past year is now behind The Birth. Every time I look back on this previous year I look at it through The Birth. Did I make some mistakes this last year? Yes, but now I see those mistakes through “Do not be afraid.” Did I reach all my goals? No, but now I see those things through “I bring you good news.” Has there been times I felt like I couldn’t do it? Absolutely, but now I see that through “Great Joy.” How can I see these things? Because a savior was born. I don’t believe it was an accident that they chose to place Christmas on the calendar when they did. I don’t think it was pure chance or just to blend it with an existing celebration that it falls a week before the years end. I believe God intervened so that the message of do not be afraid, good news, and great joy would be between our past mistakes and our future hope. Praise to God who placed The Birth at my back, a living Savior in my present, now I can hardly wait to see what He has for my future