I grew up wanting the perfect life. My mother drove me to a small two-room church school every day for grades 1-7. For 7 years we drove by our dentist’s home which I perceived to be perfect. I then went to public school for grades 8-12. During this time I had friends who lived in houses similar to my dentist’s perfect home. So I developed a concept of the perfect life I wanted to have one day. I began to believe I could have this perfect life when I did well in my college-prep courses in high school. I was well on my way to the perfect life attained through a career in medicine when I graduated from high school in 1973.
Fast forward to 2004 when I accepted a call into pastoral ministry after nearly 20 years in medicine. I had the perfect life. I had the perfect home, the perfect car, the perfect wardrobe, and the perfect family. I’m simply saying that my life was everything I had expected it to be on those car rides to elementary school. But there was one thing missing. It wasn’t the life God called me to live. He had called me to be a pastor. I had started on that path in college, but ended up chasing the perfect life to be a doctor.
This is an issue many of us face. We want our concept of perfect. We want what the world has to offer. And every Christmas we are faced with a decision between the magic of Christmas or the miracle of Christmas. We are bombarded with advertisements promising magical gifts for the perfect life all the while God’s Spirit quietly offers us the miracle of Christmas if we give up on perfect.
If you want to know how this works, check out the first Christmas story. Joseph and Mary were asked to be the parents of Jesus. They already had their life planned together. I can only imagine they saw themselves as having children together, a home, and all that comes with family life. Joseph would work as a carpenter in his home town. Life would be perfect. But then an angel came to each one of them. They were faced with a choice. They could give up on their concept of the perfect married life with Jesus, or they could go for their concept of the perfect married life without Jesus. Imagine the miracle Mary and Joseph experienced when they gave up on perfect. They not only experienced the miracle, they became a miracle. Mary gave birth to the Son of God and Joseph gave Him a home. Together, they changed the course of human history.
We too often allow our desire for the perfect house, the perfect wardrobe, the perfect friends, the perfect job, the perfect life get in our way of experiencing and being God’s miracle. The choice is ours: Magic or Miracle? The same old Christmas or a different kind of Christmas? This Christmas I’m ready to give up on perfect and be the miracle. What about you?