I worry that I live too small of a life sometimes.
I got an Instagram but I hardly ever post because there isn’t much that post-worthy. Lots of coffee shops and The Office and church and work. Nothing sexy enough for Instagram.
I tell myself that if I really want to make a difference in the world, I need to be doing big stuff. Solving world hunger and traveling to new countries and meeting new people.
Instead, I find myself wrapped up in the smallness of the everyday. Seeing the same people and living the same routines—hardly anything worthy enough to post on Instagram.
* * *
While they were there, the time came for [Mary] to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
It’s easy to only see the miracle in the birth of Christ.
Mary—a virgin—and pregnant nonetheless.
The visits of the angel.
The star overhead.
The prophecies foretold.
The choir and the escape to Egypt and the protection of the baby.
It makes sense to focus on that because that’s the exciting part. The rest, though? The rest is just so human.
Two pour kids, headed to the city and not fitting in, not finding a place to be. Making a tentative home with animals and manure.
Contractions and cries and sweat and blood.
And the only people there to welcome Jesus—this miracle baby—into the world were animals. And the animals probably weren’t that happy because he was laying in their food.
* * *
I think most of us feel this way—this mundane way of not living up to the grandeur of Instagram or being authentic millennials.
We simply wake up, work hard, and fall asleep at night with not much changing but the tides of our mind and the color of the leaves outside.
We feel awash in the glow of an ordinary moon and are awoken to the soft blanket of a mundane sun rise.
No one sees our Friday night Netflix binges or the amount of time we spend lying in bed and staring up at the ceiling. We post flashy pictures of exciting adventures that only cover-up the phoniness of our actual simplicity.
We live with the feeling that our shirt collars are too tight around our necks. Our stage makeup is peeling and we are afraid the acne underneath—the reality of our ordinariness—will keep us out of the game.
We are not the ones worthy of real and true excitement. Our lives just feel so human.
* * *
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide…”
Again, it’s easy to focus on the miraculous.
A quiet night burst open by the heavens announcing the birth of Christ the King—the one come to save a people from earth and for eternity.
But we can’t forget who the angels came to talk to. It wasn’t the wealthy of the town—the ones warm in bed dreaming of sugar plums. It wasn’t the rich or the famous. It wasn’t even the religious leaders.
No, it was a group of shepherds who—like the coming King—didn’t have a place to lay their heads.
The stars shown down on them like cigarette holes until they emerged like diamonds.
God wasn’t content to wait until they got to Jesus to start the party—he brought the party to them and invited them into excitement beyond their wildest dreams.
They’re lives were simple, and they weren’t the ones picked for any games. Their lives were, perhaps, the most human and least miraculous.
Any yet, they were among the first to meet Jesus.
* * *
I’m learning that simplicity isn’t a bad thing. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.
In fact, I’m beginning to think that God came to earth in the most human of ways to seek out those of us who feel the most human of people.
The shepherds returned to their fields. They still watched sheep, and the same stars still shown on them each night.
However, their simple lives were radically changed--still simple, to be sure--but gloriously so. They had an encounter with Jesus, left praising, and found diamonds shining down on simplicity.