My December blog series has settled into – unintentionally at first – a character study of the various players in the Advent narrative. Not only the biblical cast, but also those who are caught up in the story today.
Today I’m thinking about the children. Many of us have raised our own; some of my readers are right in the middle of the process; more than a few of you are moving through life without becoming parents.
PERSPECTIVE: Wherever we are in the process, the perspective and the presence of children around Christmas reaches into the heart of God’s initiative and articulates joy and promise with unrivaled clarity.
That’s what I was thinking a couple of days ago when this roughly drawn sketch fell out of one of my old Bibles. I hadn’t seen it in many years.
Our son, Andrew – eight at the time – had prepared a portrait of his dad – me – and annotated the work with commentary. The artwork may be begging for analysis, what with the boots, the pitchfork, the automatic weapon, the canon, and the steam coming out of my ears (nice touch); but the words not only touch my heart in so many ways, they’re packed with great theology.
“Not the Ordinary Dad,” Andrew wrote, “But Mine.”
NOT THE ORDINARY GOD! When it comes to our Heavenly Father, isn’t this the entire point of Christmas?
A careful reading of the Old Testament points to a God who consistently hammered out one critical point to the Children of Israel. “I’m not like the other Gods.”
But, time and again, they tried to force God into the mold of ordinariness. “We want to be just like the other nations!” (Samuel)
When God sent Jesus the point was made even more clearly.
- Who could have even imagined a God who was willing to become vulnerable for human beings?
- Who could have possibly invented the idea of a God who flipped the idea of sacrifice on its head and offered to die for me, and for you?
- Who could have made up something so diametrically opposed to the routine, run-of-the-mill, same-old same-old stereotype of deity as Jesus?
Only our God. Not the ordinary God, but mine!
CLOSE TO HOME: Our son, Andrew, was always thinking outside the box when it came to his view of the world. So he made a sketch of a “dad” that didn’t look anything like the vanilla example he had been told to copy at school.
I’m so proud of the fact that my son knew it wouldn’t be telling the truth if his picture of me looked even vaguely ordinary or predictable.
TAKE A FRESH LOOK: If you think you’re “over” Christianity, or “about done” with faith, or continually put-off by the hypocrisy, or just plain cynical about God, then take everything you think you know and set it aside for this coming week…
Then take a fresh look at Jesus.
You’re not going to see anything ordinary, cookie-cutter, or uninspiring. Instead you’re going to see love, hope, peace, promise, grace, possibility, redemption and so much more.
That’s what Christmas is all about. Not the ordinary “Happy Holidays;” but a completely out-of-the-ordinary celebration of life and light and truth.
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.