Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

The (drab) rest of the Christmas story

We all know that gyms, weight-loss clubs, and counseling clinics see a spike in business in the early days of a new year, but I suspect that when January rolls around, home furnishing and DIY stores also rub their hands in anticipation.

After all, when we take down the Christmas decorations, don’t our homes look naked and dull, empty and silent? It’s enough to make you want to rush out and buy a can of paint or a new wall hanging to try to recapture some of the sparkle. If only we could bottle the hope and anticipation of just a few weeks ago.

However, don’t get too down on yourself for not being able to keep the Yuletide spirit all year long, as Ebeneezer Scrooge vowed after his conversion. Consider that the post-Christmas flatness you may be feeling could actually be truer to what we recently celebrated than all the Santas and snowmen and stuff (fun as they are).

Think about it: what an event. Signs in the heavens. Royal visitors. An angelic chorus. Peasant pilgrims. A miracle birth. God has stepped in to change things. And then… nothing. For, like, thirty years.

Sure there were things going on behind the scenes during those three decades. Jesus was growing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). But outwardly everything seemed whisper soft.

In the years that followed, did the shepherds who had thrilled to hear that a Savior had been born to them “today” ever wonder when he was actually going to start with the saving thing? Did those with whom they had shared their angelic encounter sneeringly remind them of what clearly seemed, in the light of experience, to have been a delusion, wishful thinking, or an empty promise?

Most of us who have experienced the joy of Jesus being “born in us today,” as we sing in O Little Town of Bethlehem, have come to the same place—or likely will. The delight, the hope, the expectation starts to fade and we are left waiting. And waiting. And wondering.

But post-Christmas drabness doesn’t indicate God’s disinterest. It marks His deliberateness. I’m learning that God never seems to be in as much of a hurry to do things as I am. I may be persuaded that now would be a good time for Him to do such and such, while He is waiting on the perfect time.

During that season in between, God is not so much sitting on His hands as rubbing them together in expectation, and maybe thinking, “Just wait till they see this.”

If you’re waiting and wondering right now, then welcome to the rest of the Christmas story.

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