With Christmas still around us in our eyes, ears, and mouths and the hope of Epiphany looming ahead, I present a guest post along those themes from my sister, Rachel Miller.
Like years past I spent the last several weeks planning and plotting and watching for sales and shipping deals in order to find the perfect gifts for my kids: three deliciously beautiful blonde boys ages 5 months, 2 years, and 5 years old. All of the fretting and sweating and logistical maneuvering was all worth it to see their eyes light up when they tore back the wrapping paper and saw their new favorite toy/game/shirt/whatever. Also as in years past, my husband and I agreed to not buy each other Christmas gifts to wrap and place under the tree. I truly am OK with that decision, but this year I am especially thankful for it. I think if I had a gift under the tree to unwrap, I might have missed the completely perfect gift that God gave me this Christmas. God allowed me to clearly see his own son, Jesus Christ, in each of my children for the first time.
First Sebastian, my sweet chubby 5 month old. As we rested and nursed quietly this afternoon I thought about the fact that this is how Mary and Jesus spent the first Christmas. Mary, exhausted from travel and childbirth, probably spent most if not all of Christmas Day resting, cuddling, and nursing God's own son as best she could in a barn. I'm sure we both kissed chubby fingers, traced the curve of an ear, gently rubbed a tiny back. What a beautiful reminder of Jesus' humble beginnings and Sebastian's potential to be an extraordinary force in this world. Thank you, God.
Then Nathan, my crazy intense 2 year old. Our pastor spoke of the Magi at the Christmas Eve service. He stated that, while most nativity scenes show the three kings offering their lavish gifts to a newborn Jesus in the manger, it's more likely that it took them several months, if not over a year, to follow the star and find Jesus. He asked us to imagine the chaos it would have caused in the streets of Bethlehem when this caravan of wealthy VIPs entered the city in search of Jesus, all to find a toddler not so different from the ones squirming in the pews that night. I could see it in my mind's eye. I could see the look of surprise, yet quiet understanding in Nathan's enormous eyes as the wise men presented their gifts. I could see his heart-melting dimpled smile, and even hear him trying out some of the new words describing his gifts: gold ... muh ... frank-a-tents, all the while giggling. A reminder of how God will use my seemingly ordinary Nathan to do remarkable things for his kingdom. Thank you, God.
Finally Kameron, my firstborn. Five years ago at this time I really identified with Mary as I was only days away from becoming a mother for the first time as well! As I listened to Kameron have an in depth conversation with his aunt about Thomas the Tank Engine and all of his railway friends, I thought of Jesus as a young boy in the temple. I specifically had a vision of a boy not much older than Kameron surrounded by the elders in the temple, speaking to them with authority about theological and spiritual matters. Ok, clearly Thomas the Tank Engine is not as deep of a subject, but I had never seen him speak with such passion and authority about the name, number, size, color, and unique characteristics of an impressive number of engines. I could picture Kameron in the midst of a spirited debate with the elders, educating them on the attributes of God the Father in his sweet yet matter-of-fact voice. A reminder of how God uses the mouths of even children like my Kameron to speak his truth to the world. Thank you, God.
Gifts under the Christmas tree are nice, and I still enjoy the thrill of hunting the perfect present, but nothing compares to the gift of clearly seeing Christ in your kids for the first time. I pray that all Christians experience similar revelations in their journey of faith.
When Rachel is not working her day job wielding her red tape machete or pushing beer-leavened baked goods on the side, she is home with her three boys ages 5 years, 2 years, and 5 months eating homemade pizza and ice cream made by her culinary gifted husband, Kal.