Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ugly Christmas Boxes

Once a year I go into our garage, push past several boxes of stuff, kick up the dust and dirt that has accumulated over the last year, brush away a few dead bugs, and finally reach my goal—more boxes.

There is an incredible difference between the ugly boxes I move out of the way and the ugly boxes I pull out and it is not just the word ‘Christmas’ written on the outside with black Sharpie, it’s what’s inside of them that makes them different. In fact, these boxes are more worn, tattered, and stained from the years spent in the garage than most of the other boxes. Year after year, they’ve been moved, pushed, and crushed into tight spaces to make room for other stuff.

I tug and pull them out of their resting place, pile them up, and carry them to the living room. They are ugly. They are frayed. Various types of tape hold them together. But unlike the others, these hold promise because of the true meaning behind that one word: Christmas.

It’s been eleven months since we packed them away and who put what where, is a mystery. My family gathers around the stack, and one by one, we open the boxes as nostalgia fills our hearts by what’s inside. Piece by piece, the old ‘works of art’ are pulled out and unwrapped from their protective Wal-Mart bags or the occasional ‘special’ item has paper, bubble wrap, and then the Wal-Mart bag.

The funny thing is… From the most beautiful piece to the downright scary hand-painted Santa, none of the pieces are particularly stirring on their own. It is only when we begin to put them on the tree that a different picture emerges. Then, when we step back, turn on the tree lights, and stand there quietly for a moment and gaze, it is at that moment that we are reminded of the uniqueness of Christmas and the ugly boxes that held this beauty gives way to something better.

Christmas, despite the ardent attempts of humanists, will always be about one thing: the birth of a Savior. He offers life to anyone who will accept His gift (John 11:25). Like the boxes and the items inside, we are all battered, broken, and held together by various types of ‘tape’. With Jesus, it’s not our decrepit body and not the beautiful or ugly moments that make or break us. It’s what we allow Him to do with those laughs—those tears—and those scars that matter. He alone opens the shell you live in, pulls out the good, the bad, and the ugly, puts it on the Tree of Life, and creates a perfect picture of beauty.

Christmas is more than symbolism; it is truth, reality, and it is life. Jesus doesn’t focus on the appearance of your box, the contents on the inside, or the stains from years of a difficult life, nor should you. Focus, instead, on the life Jesus brought to earth on the first Christmas morning and allow Him to lovingly use all of you to glorify Him and give you peace.

“I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem” Luke 2:10-11