Last year at Christmas time, I spent two weeks at my in-laws’ dairy farm in Wisconsin.
As a California girl, people kept asking me questions like, “Are you surviving? Are you ready to go home yet? Do you actually like the farming life?” And every time someone asked me one of those questions, I would secretly pat myself on the back and give myself a high five for being such an amazing wife who was willing to adapt to something I know my husband loves and cares for.
About midway through our trip, I found myself getting a little on the irritable side.
Everyone was constantly coming into the house with cow poop falling off of their boots and it was impossible to keep anything clean. One of the worst culprits was, of course, my dear husband who just thrives on being as dirty as possible. But the worst of all was our highly energetic dog, an Australian Shepherd, who not only follows in my husband’s footsteps, but also takes it to an all-new level of gross. He would come bounding through the door of our bedroom covered in hay and fresh cow droppings and plant himself directly on my side of the bed where he would then begin to clean himself. Pleasant, right?
I said to my husband in my most amused and yet stern, wifely voice: “I just have one request, one I think is rather reasonable. There is cow poop all over the place and I can’t control that. But there is just one spot that I am begging could be free of this cow aroma; our bed. That is my one simple request.”
Later on in the week, I decided to record a version of the Christmas carol O Come O Come Emmanuel. After we filmed the singing, I wanted some extra footage to add, so I went to my husband who was milking the cows in the barn and asked him for ideas. He said, “You could film a calf in the snow or something. Does that have any relevance to the song?”
“Does that have any relevance to the song?”
All the sudden it hit me. Jesus was born in a BARN like this and surrounded by these kinds of animals.
There is no more relevant a place for me to film a song about God being with us than right there in that barn! How is it that I had been here so long and hadn’t seen this?
That’s when I released that we glamourize the Christmas story far too much with our images of a pristine white cow sitting gently beside Jesus, with Mary and Joseph in their perfectly ironed blue and white robes. Even the shepherds who have been out in the fields all night are typically portrayed without a spot on them. And the wise men add a touch of royalty as they kneel in the straw presenting their gifts.
As a waterfall of brown substance escaped from the cow next to me and I stood there in that barn looking at the cows caked in their own excrement, and my husband standing there tending to them also covered head to toe in…well let’s just call it mud…I suddenly had a new revelation of that first Christmas. And I remembered my own words to my husband a few days before…“I just have one simple, reasonable request, no cow poop in the bed.”
The very Son of God did not make that request.
The bible says that after Jesus was born, “she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7
I believe there was no room for them in the inn because God never planned for His son to be born in the inn. I believe He wanted to make a very profound statement about the kind of God He is.
He is not a God who tells us to get our act together and then come to him, put on a smile and fake your happiness in the midst of your pain so that no one doubts you are a good Christian.
He is the God who entered into our mess, spent his first night sleeping in the midst of dirt and displayed his glory with a host of heavenly angels, not to kings and princes, but to the dirty, bottom of society, shepherds.
Let’s stop glamorizing the Christmas story and instead begin to boast in the true Emmanuel, God with us, right in the midst of our imperfection.
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.'” Matthew 1:23
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Your Gifts: Spiritual Gifts Discovery
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Here are more free articles, excerpted from the book Your Gifts shown above, one for each of the nine Team Ministry Spiritual Gifts…
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Shepherding?
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