Why I need to linger at the manger {My black hands}

by Kari on December 26, 2012


The kids were playing happily with their new gifts, and I had a hankering to get something done. The “doer” in me dies hard. What to do?

Packing? No thank you! Doing dishes? Not a chance. Cleaning this filthy house? I’d do anything to avoid that. My eye fell on the can of black spray paint sitting on the counter. Yes! I’d spray paint the barstools we’d purchased off Craigslist. I slipped into old clothes, set up shop in the carport, and sprayed until I ran out of paint. When I finished, the chairs looked great, but my hands? Black. Because it was so windy outside, the paint covered my hands with a thin grungy layer of black.

Everytime I looked down that day I was reminded of how I feel sometimes.

This may be an odd after-Christmas question, but: Do you sometimes just despise yourself?

I mean despise. Do you sometimes look around at your life and realize how repulsive it is? How filthy? No, I don’t mean you are some criminal or live some secret despicable life. I mean you live a real life. A “normal” life. Sometimes, I look around and all I can think is, “Who am I kidding?”  Who on earth am I kidding? I look down at my hands and they’re a picture of me: Filthy.

Not to be a downer, but it’s the truth. The inclinations of my heart are wickedI, who truly more than anything want to seek God and follow Him, I read the page in Romans 3 and the only thing missing is my name.

“None is righteous, no not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

continually unearth pockets of pride in the corners of my life. (Every. Single. Day.) 

I look down at my hands again: They’re still filthy. 

And sometimes when I feel this way I listen to the slithering serpent’s suggestion: Hide. Run away, hide it all. You think you’re a light to those around you? Ha! There is no “little light of mine” to shine so quit holding your ridiculous arm in the airWho are you kidding?

And for a moment the offer looks good. Run away. Hide. Quit writing. Delete the blog. Duct-tape up the windows so no one can see in. Get the bushel and crawl underneath.

But then, by some miracle. Christmas comes.

And I remember again that Christ came to a stinking stable. 

A stinking stable.

It might as well have been my home.

And if I am hung up on my poor performance I have not understood His perfect performance. I have not understood the gospel. His resumé in place of mine. His beauty for my ashes. His joy for my sorrow. His riches for my poverty. His righteousness for my rags.

I can hang Christmas lights around my home but it still reeks of the sinners who inhabit these rooms. Without His daily grace we are utterly lost. He came into the filthiest places. Most of all mine. I will cling to this. And I will trust this, when I look down, in, deep, at my hands and at my heart, and see the absolute bankruptcy of my soul. I will not get lost in the darkness but turn, look up and hear:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Christmas may be over, but what if we lingered at the manger?

What if, this week, before we looked ahead to 2013,  we lingered a little by His side? Like L’Enchante. And when we looked around that stinky stable we might recognize our own home.

Our own lives.

And we might find ourselves bowed low all week in humble thanks that He has entered our filth and is making us new. The tree will come down, the wrapping paper stuffed into trash bags, fir needles vacuumed, stockings stowed for yet another year.

But what if we stayed low, kneeling to adore Him?

What if we kept on receiving our King? 

I really just want to stay here and adore Him. To linger at the manger and rejoice that He has entered my filthiest places and made me new.  I know my home is a stinking stable and my heart is even worse, but He came into this place and He is here and He is mine and nothing can separate me from the love of God.

Joy to the world.

{Rewrote this from last year, because it applies this year as it did last. Go ahead and linger this week by His side. He is in the middle of your mess. Stop, bow, worship Him there. Thank you for letting me be real in this place. And thanks for reading.}

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