Being in a foreign country can be tough. I don’t know the language (yet!). I don’t know the culture well. I don’t even know where to buy good meat. These are normal every day challenges but add in the holidays and challenges can become hardships.
I have moments when I think, “What am I doing here? Did God really send us here?” Then, just this morning, I watched my daughter, Stella, run after her daddy so that she could go on a motorcycle ride with him down our little mountain before the winter rain began. I watched her run, curls bouncing, enjoying the backdrop of the mountain and started to remember why we came.
We came to serve. We came to love others. We came to give our children a better picture of who Jesus is by following Him. We came because He asked us to trust Him, even when nothing made sense.
Then, I started to think about these holidays that I love celebrating. First, I thought of Thanksgiving. I thought about the gathering of my family to make food, eat food, play games, talk, eat more food, and just enjoy being together. Then, I thought about the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving. We celebrate because of a group of people who came to our country. They were also following God’s call. They were also in a foreign place.
Then, I started to think about Christmas. I thought of Christmas lights. I thought of snow. I thought of wrapping presents. I thought about my family gathering to decorate Christmas cookies. Finally, I looked across our living room and saw our nativity set.
For several weeks, we’ve had this nativity out for our children. We wanted it to be “interactive” and so we let them play with it hoping they could begin to understand why we really celebrate Christmas. Though the pieces have been broken many times (We really need to purchase a wooden set!), we keep pulling out the super glue and putting them back together. We want our children to know who these people are and maybe, just maybe why Jesus came as a baby in a manger. Stella will carry around several of the people, talking about Mary and baby Jesus and Joseph. She’ll set them up in different places around our home. During nap time, she wants me to read stories about when Jesus came to us, and then, makes sure I put Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus on the bed with her.
I wish I had that kind of dedication! Watching her carry around Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus reminded me of something very important about Christmas that is not found in the “Christmas story.”
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8
Jesus was not at home on Christmas. He was not in comfort. He was not even of the right “social” status. He did not have the enticing smells of a Christmas dinner. He smelled animal feces. He was a human infant, unable to care for Himself. The God of the universe humbled Himself to save us!
That is the attitude I need to have. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my reminders that being on “home” soil, doing those comfortable holiday events is completely unimportant. The original holiday makers were uncomfortable but forged new ways and made big impacts. I only hope that I can learn from their examples.
The holiday season can be especially difficult for our students here at Caribbean Mountain Academy. Please, pray for them as they struggle with not being home for the holidays. Pray that we can be their home away from home.