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Faithlife

Christmiss

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It’s amazing what some people see and other people miss.  One person sees what is so obscure and another misses what is so obvious.

One of the benefits of early morning running is that you get to see things that others rarely or never see.  One Saturday morning, Layton Ford, we call him Tigger by the way, and I were running on the trail near Devon Lumber.  The sun was just coming up with new light for the new day.  Suddenly a cat scurried between us from the rear.  He ran ahead 20 to 30 feet and then dropped something from his mouth.  He was a little large as cats go, not sleek.  I suspect that he was a house cat that was enjoying a rare opportunity to be away from an over-civilized life and on this morning, he had the good fortune to satisfy his nature.  There in front of us the cat dropped his prize.  It was almost as though he was looking for someone to show what he had accomplished.  So he dropped the mouse there as we ran up to him.  Inexperienced as a mouser however, he was more intent on our reaction than the prize, which was on all fours scurrying away now.  The delay was short, his reverie broken and off he lumbered to overtake the mouse within just a few more steps.  And there he began to play with his food.  The mouse would run a few feet away and the cat would cut him off.  This took place a couple of times and then something strange happened.  I’d never seen anything like it.  I’m glad that I didn’t miss it.

That little mouse stood on his hind legs, spit on his paws, a little shuffle of his feet and then looked that house cat in the eyes and said, “You want a piece of me?  Come on!”

The cat halted in his tracks as did Layton and I.  It was one of those precious life moments that I will never forget.  In that second I learned a thousand lessons.  I was inspired to face the giants in my own life.  I wished that I had my camera with me.

I got this picture that you see on the screen the other day and I relived the whole event.

Now Layton is no cat lover.  Nor is he a mouse lover and we are on a run.  We have miles to put in.  He looks at me and then back at the combatants.  I can see that same enlightenment in his eyes that I have in my own.

He looks at me and says, “Gotta’ save the mouse.”

So he suggests that he chase the cat away and that I chase the mouse in the opposite direction.  Off we go, two nearly 50 year olds breaking up an early morning brawl.  He puts flight to the cat and I yell something at the mouse and he scurries toward the fence surrounding the lumber yard.

As he runs a few feet in that direction, I see the muscles in his little mouse shoulders flex as he puts the brakes on and I can already see the thought process in his little mouse brain.  He’s thinking, I faced the cat down and this guy is only marginally taller.  He turns around stands up on those hind legs, spits on his paws, shuffles his feet and looks at me and says, “You want a piece of me?  Come on!”

Layton is rolling on the ground in laughter by this time, offers to help me.  I think it’s better to defer to this enlightened mouse.  I drop my hands and walk away hoping that he doesn’t make this routine.  Some cats are not so easily scared and some people are not so easily impressed.

I wish you could have seen it and I’m glad that I didn’t miss it.  Some of you don’t believe that it happened as I told you today.  Just ask Tigger.  It’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Christmas presents the seasonal challenge to us.  It asks us which set of eyes we choose to see life through.  You can see through the eyes of past hurts.  It will obstruct your vision and cause you to miss what others see and treasure.  This may be your first Christmas without a loved one and your heart is broken at the loss.  You can’t dismiss that.  You can’t switch off the pain.  You wouldn’t want to.  The depth of your pain is a tribute to the love that you shared with the person that you have lost.  This message is not meant to tell you that there is something wrong with you if you don’t feel like smiling.  It is meant to try to offer you a connection to the resource that you already have in the Christ of Christmas.  It’s a resource that the Christian never loses but at times there are connection issues.  And rather than miss the season and the message, this is just an admonition to reconnect rather than to disconnect as so many do.  You can see through the dark glass of cynicism.  That comes from disappointment or a feeling of being “stuck” in life as though you deserve better and others who don’t deserve it, receive what rightfully belongs to you.  Christmas is a challenge to take those dark glasses off and to see through eyes of faith.

Matthew 2 contains a story of people who saw what others missed.  They were wise men, star-gazers who followed a sign in the heavens that brought them to a two-year old boy.  A very unusual boy. 

" After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route." (Matthew 2:1-12, NIV) [1]

These men saw what others missed.  They saw Creation declare the birth of a new king.

" For the director of music. A psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun," (Psalm 19:1-4, NIV) [2]

For people who are watching to see the hand of God, it is there to be seen.  It may not always move according to our wishes and it may not always remove our pain or loss but it still moves.  He is still alive and Lord of this universe.

Look at the account in Luke 2.

" And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." (Luke 2:8-20, NIV) [3]

The heavens declare their glory to homeless shepherds living on a hillside, doing the work that no one else wants to do.

They are interrupted by an angel of the Lord and then by a multitude of the heavenly host.  Why tell hard-luck shepherds?  Because this is who this news is meant to affect, those looking for hope.  You can look for hope or you can look for reasons to continue on as you are.  It’s not a matter of right or wrong – just a tragedy really that we live disconnected from God and from hope.

Did you notice how that portion of scripture ends?  Other than Joseph and Mary, the shepherds were the only ones who saw the infant in the manger.  And they knew exactly who He was.  And when they had seen they went back to their lonely station.

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen . . . .”

The daily reality of their lives was unchanged by somehow they were different for what they had seen.

What do you see today when you look around?  Whether good or bad, you see what you are looking for.

"We live by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV) [4]

The child of God sees the world differently than the child of this world.  You are given a window into spiritual reality that can provide you with a lens through which you can see everyday life.  That is a resource that you can utilize or ignore.  The devil wants to blind you to spiritual reality by fixing your eyes on what is seen.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV) [5]

We see what it is that we are looking for.  If you don’t like what you are seeing, you need to look for something different.

Relationships die when couple begin to look for the wrong things.  If my wife were to decide today that she was going to leave me she would begin to see my weaknesses as intolerable.  It wouldn’t be that I had changed or gotten worse.  It would be that she could no longer accept the negative aspects of my character or my habits.  We all have those you know and when we come to love one another we accept them. 

Anytime you leave, your discontent is heightened.  It’s been that way in every church that I have worked in.  As long as I am engaged in the ministry and God is speaking to my heart, I accept the downside of the church that I minister in, just as I pray that people are able to gracefully accept my weaknesses.  But when you choose to disconnect, you see things differently.  What one was acceptable is now unacceptable.

The problem is the way that we see, the things that we choose to focus on.  There were multitudes of informed, religiously educated people there in Bethlehem who knew the promise of God and missed it’s realization – right under their noses, the promise of the ages was fulfilled and they were oblivious to it.

So if you want to see something different at Christmas you need to begin to look for something different.  So far you have seen what it is that you have looked for.


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[1]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[2]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[3]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[4]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[5]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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