Like the Beatles sang and rather noisily too—“You say it’s your birthday.” Queue in a really nice electric guitar riff by George Harrison, Ringo on drums, picture John Lennon and Paul McCartney leaning in toward the same microphone, then belt out along with them, “It’s my birthday too—yeah.”
At least it was my birthday a couple of days ago. As a bit of a curmudgeon I never bothered much about celebrating the day I was born. As a December baby there were so many other things going on and certainly with a different focus. How can one compete with that? But I learned long ago that I didn’t want to.
As a kid I decided to take the Christmas season as my own personal birthday gift from God. With my mother raising us on her own, there was little money, so we created a family tradition of decorating the Christmas tree on my birthday and eating Christmas goodies. It made me feel special, especially through those gawky teenage years. You know those times when we don’t feel there’s anything good about us. We may feel ugly, stupid, unwanted perhaps. We may even question why on earth God created us. We feel small in the grand scheme of things. For many, those debilitating feelings follow into later years. For some, all of their lives. Christmas can often accentuate those thoughts.
But I believe God smiled on my childlike choice as a kid to feel special just because I shared the traditional month of Christ’s birth. I think He wants us all to ask—why are we special? What thing in our life—no matter how small—shows that we are unique to God? We all have something. We just need to look. Maybe we write emails and letters to encourage others. Or we knit hats for the homeless. Perhaps we play soccer with lonely kids in a poor part of town. Or maybe because of physical limitations with illness, all we can do is smile. But we think to ourselves, it’s not much. It’s so small in the grand scheme of things.
The Lord Jesus encouraged the disciples to bring a young child into their midst one day. By using that metaphor He showed us, it’s often the smallest, most insignificant things that matter to our Lord. He’s interested in what we do, yes, but He is also interested in how we view ourselves, right down to the tiniest fiber of motivation in our hearts.
There have been 52 Decembers for me, and often I ponder—what is my purpose, what special thing does God want me to do? Especially these past 9 years as I wondered, should I really be spending so much time trying to write “The Great Christian Fictional Novel”. I struggled with thoughts that maybe I should be making better use of my time, like cleaning the house, getting a better-paying job, getting to know my neighbor. Tapping out—as yet unpublished manuscripts—on the keys of my laptop in my tiny, dusty office, doesn’t appear like real work to some.
Then I get an email or a comment every once in a while, telling me that something I wrote encouraged someone in their faith. If we listen and look with believing eyes, we see that God has given us a purpose to get up every morning. If God is nudging you to keep on with an idea, get up and write it down. If the Lord is encouraging you to keep on knitting or sewing or baking or studying, or doing whatever service comes to your mind, then keep on. It is not small. God will use it and surprise you with the greatness of it.
At this time of the year we celebrate what appeared small, the birth of God’s Son. We don’t really know what day in the year the Christ child was born. But we do believe that our Heavenly Father sent His only, unique, one of a kind Son to us. Jesus temporarily set aside His glory to be wrapped up in the human flesh of a small babe. It is the eve of His birthday.
The angels said to the shepherds that night, “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
In the grand scheme of things that seemingly small beginning led to such a momentous event—His sacrifice on a cross thirty-some years later. Our salvation.
Zechariah 4:10 a “Who despises the day of small things . . .”