Twas the night before Christmas and all through the land, the people walked in darkness and distance from God. As we prepare for Christmas this year, I find myself drawn to that first Christmas Eve. Only a few people knew something special was coming, but for the rest of the world it was a day like any other. The shepherds were going about their work as normal. The innkeeper was busy tending to an abundance of guests in town for the census. The people of Bethlehem were doing their best to get through the day, just like any other.
The Old Testament prophecies of Jesus’ birth that fill us with such hope today, perhaps were sounding hollow. God had been silent for hundreds of years and, while the people would have known and studied the prophecies, how much hope would you place in something written so long before? Would you just be checking the box on going to church, but not truly putting your hope in the words said there? Would you still have hope in promises spoken 700 years earlier?
Oh, does that ring a bell?
Have you let faith become a ‘check the box’ activity, but not truly put your hope in the words spoken through scripture?
Have you just been going through the motions of everyday life, not expecting God to show up?
The Israelites hadn’t abandoned God. They were faithfully trying to follow all the rules laid out by Moses. They went to temple, they worshipped God, they prayed, they read and studied scripture. Yet, Isaiah tells us they walked in darkness.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2
We can go to church, study the Bible, pray and try to live a good and faithful life, yet still be walking in darkness. We can know OF Jesus through the scriptures, yet not really KNOW Jesus. The Israelites knew OF Jesus. They’d read and studied the prophecies. Later, they even heard him teach, but they didn’t KNOW him. The light hadn’t dawned yet in their hearts.
Christmas doesn’t just come on December 25th, it comes when you encounter the miracle of Jesus and allow God to enter into your heart.
God doesn’t make a grand entrances, doesn’t come in a roar of thunder, but rather He comes as a quiet whisper on the wind, as a baby born in a manger. Unexpected, unassuming, altogether missable if we’re not paying attention.
Then Elijah was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.”
A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. 1 Kings 19:12 The Message (MSG)
Are you still walking in darkness, still living in a Christmas Eve world?
Or, have you met the Messiah personally and let His light come into your life? Have you heard His whisper? Have you seen him in the eyes of the baby Jesus? Have you let His light dawn in your heart?
–> For Mary, Christmas came through the pains of childbirth, in the first cry of her newborn baby.
–> For the shepherds, Christmas came in the surprise and fright of a sky filled with angels and a baby laying in a manger.
–> For the wise men, Christmas came after a long journey, following the lead of a star, but not sure of their destination.
–> For Simeon and Anna, Christmas came after a long wait, on an otherwise ordinary day when they saw the baby Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem and understood immediately that this baby was the Messiah.
–> For Peter, Christmas came on the shores of the Sea of Galilee when a man named Jesus stepped into his fishing boat and gently said, “Come, follow me.”
–> For the blind man, Christmas came when Jesus rubbed mud on his eyes and literally brought him out of darkness into light.
Yet for many others then and now, Christmas never comes. They never meet Jesus, never let the light penetrate the darkness in their hearts, never find the hope that entered this world with Christmas.
You can go to church, worship God, say your prayers, and go through all the motions, but still walk in darkness. Yet once you have your Christmas moment, you’re forever changed. No one who met Jesus and had that Christmas moment was ever the same.
How will Christmas come for you?
Have you found Christmas? Have you met Jesus and let his light dawn in your life?
Or are you still living as if it’s Christmas Eve?
If you still feel like this world is full of darkness, that your hope of better things to come is fading, that God has abandoned you and this world, then ask God for Christmas. Ask God to break through into your life and fill your heart with His light and love and hope.
I love this verse of O Little Town of Bethlehem:
How silently, how silently,
the wondrous gift is given;
so God imparts to human hearts
the blessings of his heaven.
No ear may hear his coming,
but in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive him, still
the dear Christ enters in.
In this world of sin and darkness, Christ still enters in.
The gift of Christmas is often silent and unexpected, a gift for the heart to know Christ and be filled with hope. Yet we have to receive him and be open to him with humble hearts. Are you ready for your Christmas morning or will you continue to live in a Christmas Eve world?
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.