A Small Christmas
It has been a whirlwind of a season for this Attaway family. Since the moment we said 'I Do' life has been a blur. Three months came and went in the blink of an eye - from marrying off some (4... yes, in a matter of 40 days) of our favorite couples to experiencing our first snow day together, some of our most significant memories will be bound up in the pages of these days. It has been a special, purposeful, and defined beginning.
But with any beginning there is a longing to be on the other side. The other side of the apartment, for some, the student loan debt, the 'terrible twos,' the days of hidden work, etc. We see very little beauty in beginning because it is small, seemingly insignificant, and we equate our smallness to inadequacy. Whether in our calling, our gifts, our work, or our family. We are bent on measuring success as waves of sizable notoriety and material growth, rather than leaning into the little we've been entrusted with.
This Advent season I've been mulling over one Old Testament passage. A prophecy that I've never heard before, but one that has resonated with me in such a raw way;
"But you, O Bethlehem Ephrarthah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days." (Micah 5:2, ESV)
There is this emphatic tone underneath the second line that brings us a little closer into the fold of the Christmas story. Rather than exalting the remarkable, God used what was quiet, small, and still to usher in the beginning of New Covenant ministry. It seems to be a theme among the arc of Scripture, God beckoning humility over pride, small over grandeur, little over plenty, quiet over booming. By His humble birth and little birthplace - His earthly beginning, Jesus modeled the way for us.
I lean in alongside Bethlehem with the description of "too little," and I typically have trouble with the "from you shall come forth for me..." All too often I look at my gifts - gifts that have been affirmed and encouraged - and believe they are too small to even put a dent in the Kingdom. I look at my current position in my calling and wonder how in the world it could be a part of the narrative. But as I wrestle with these thoughts I realize that in order to see the wonder in the small, in the beginning, it takes narrowing your focus, and intentionally setting your gaze on it to find reason to keep pressing into it.
Here is what I'm learning as I continue to faithfully press into the little that God has entrusted me with so far:
Smallness lends to stillness. Stillness renders an attitude of trust. A release from the pressure of expectation and a release of that which you hold so tightly.
The story isn't about you or me. Our gifts and callings are not about you or me. What it could or could not offer was not about Bethlehem. Rather, it was about Jesus reconciling us to Himself and how He goes about doing that. In the whisper of a town, it was through the cry of a baby.
With every Christmas the world is handing us an invitation into bigger, better, and busier. It is this tension of keeping focus and keeping up that flows into everyday living the other 364 days a year. Our little is not our lack, it has the ability to be the center of God's greatest sanctifying work in our lives. It is a part of working out our salvation, and it's in the stillness where it is called to life.