Oh my goodness, guys – I lost baby Jesus! I am sharing the story because I made it a goal to be authentic about how Christmas really goes in my house. This is a paragraph I wrote earlier this season:
“I want to refrain from chasing idyllic moments this year. I resolve to enjoy real ones – moments of joyful imperfection, and to encourage you to feel better about yours.”Mama Lava in An Illusion of Joy or an Infusion of Joy? Part 1
If you read last week’s post containing the 9 Traditions Which have Characterized Our Christian Christmas, you know how important it is, in my house, that Jesus not show up in the Nativity set until Christmas morning.
It was my oldest daughter who exclaimed to my grandkids, “Oh, I bet baby Jesus was born last night! Should we go look by Joseph and Mary?” I half-heard the commotion, but I was busy in the kitchen. I didn’t fully comprehend what was happening until they all came in and my daughter asked, “Mima (pronounced Mee-Maw), do you know when baby Jesus might be appearing in the nativity set?” Her eyes said “uh-oh” as her lips silently formed the words “I’m sorry” from behind the kids.
I said something hastily about how we’d have to check back in there later, and I scanned my brain for the memory of where I’d put baby Jesus. I began to panic because I had no idea. I began to hunt in the most likely places. Then I frantically looked in the unlikely places. All the while I played nonchalant for the kids, but I couldn’t find Him!
On top of our bookshelf, we have a plaque of the letters in the word “PRAY”. I looked for baby Jesus behind the sign and knocked it over. The Y is loose and came off. When I tried to catch it, an exposed screw pierced deeply under one of my fingernails. It hurt so much, and I was already very frustrated with myself.
Not only had I lost baby Jesus, but I was about to ‘lose my Jesus’. This is an expression we use in my house when we lose our cool. If you haven’t read the post entitled How to be More Certain I Won’t Egotistically ‘Lose my Jesus’, it fits perfectly right here. I needed to re-read it in this moment.
Instead, I ran upstairs under the guise of ‘getting a bandage’ to have a good cry. How could I lose baby Jesus when He was supposed to be the star of the show? I found myself apologizing profusely to the grown, sacrificed, and risen Jesus.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”Hebrews 4:15, 16
And you know what? He answered me. He reassured me that He knew I’d lose his baby likeness and He had worked it into His plan. He wanted me to be authentic about it. He didn’t want the kids to think He showed up in some mystical way when they weren’t looking. He wanted me to tell them the story of His birth and explain the reason why I had kept Him out of the nativity set in the first place.
“This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: if our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”1 John 3:19, 20
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”Deuteronomy 4:9
So, with bandage in place, emotions calmed, and resolve reset, I returned downstairs. I was authentic with my grandkids. They all followed as I returned to my search. I opened an upper cabinet and there it was, the ceramic manger with baby Jesus inside. “I found Him!”, I exclaimed!
And then, out of the mouth of my 5-year-old granddaughter, came the words that were dubbed the quote-of-the-day. “Hey, who put Jesus in the cabinet?” I did. That was me.
What an unfortunate quote to remember from Christmas 2021. Or is it? It certainly makes me think. Have I, do I, put Jesus in the cabinet? Are there times when I ‘put Him away until later’ in my day-to-day routine? And then, do I ever forget Him there, out of sight, out of mind?
If / when I do, I want to be as appalled as I felt when I lost Him on Christmas morning. I hope I never allow so many distractions that I forget where I left Him. But I know that if I ever do, all it takes is for me to change the posture of my heart. If I turn towards Him, He will come toward me too.
“Come near to God and he will come near to you…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”James 4:8a, 10
As if to punctuate the point of His preciousness to me, my punctured finger throbbed painfully all day and reminded me that Jesus was born to die a torturous death, of which a punctured hand was just a part. He did that for me.
Our Christmas was truly wonderful, but the authentic account includes flaws. I lost baby Jesus, among other things. But thankfully, Jesus does not require perfection. He often is most poignant in our failures. How did your celebration go? Do you have any lesson-learned moments you’d like to share? I’d sure love to hear them!