I can always count on Maggie, our precocious seven-year-old, to inspire me to think outside the box. She is not one to color inside the lines, either literally or metaphorically. She and I spend several hours a day one-on-one homeschooling, and she never fails to amaze me with her limitless imagination. Her “When-I-grow-up…” list grows by the hour and recently she seems to have added “color commentator” to her list of career aspirations. Not color commentator for football, mind you, or any other spectator sport. Why give the play-by-play of something as meaningless as sports when you could provide commentary on your own life. While hammering out an email, I’ll hear, “…and then the girl picked up her pencil and began to carefully print Zs” or “Maggie really hoped her mom would bring her snack soon because she was so hungry.”
Being a lover of narrative, I appreciate this gift that my daughter seems to have in seeing her life as a story, one to be enjoyed and cherished, sometimes to be endured. It isn’t easy to see the thread of story that runs through all our lives running through your own life story. Too often, we are too close up to see the themes and lessons. This time of year, many of us are focused on the Christmas story. Two thousand years removed from the events that changed human history forever, it’s easy to identify the main characters, to see the plot unfolding and rushing to the climax of the cross and empty tomb. But what was it like for the characters themselves, who weren’t storybook figures, only living between the pages of a fairytale? These were men and women of flesh and blood, often lacking in perspective, too immersed in the events of today to foresee the God-sized plan of which they were a part. This is a man, traveling with his betrothed, unable to find shelter. This is a young woman giving birth for the first time in a cave meant for beasts of burden, not the King of Kings. One has to wonder how much of it they really understood. Certainly the angelic visitations and Holy Spirit-inspired prophecies helped. But think of all the promises we are given, of God’s provision and love, of our ultimate destiny. Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, how often are we tempted to doubt? How often do we give way to despair? How often are we stuck in the cave unable to feel the light of resurrection?
So this season, as you sit and ponder the lights of the tree, the gifts exchanged, and the pile of dishes to be washed, don’t forget to look up. Remember that your life, too, is a story being told. You may not know where you are going, but there is a light leading the way.