a story // day fifteen


I know I enjoyed a week of celebrating traditions. They are the best. 


I'm going to tell you a story. 

Once upon a time (how all good stories start) there was a young girl. She was 12 years old and lived in a thriving agricultural town. She was just a kid, yet she was very much an adult at the same time. You see, she was engaged to be married to someone. You might think, at that young age? Yes, when she lived, it was not unheard of to marry so young. Her husband-to-be was strong, smart, and loved to be around her. She was grateful that God had put a nice young man in her life.

One day, this young girl was at her house, washing up her clothes, when a man walked into her house. She was about to scream for help when he put his hands out and smiled, "Greetings O favored one, the Lord is with you!"

The girl was confused. Her mouth hung open in bewilderment. This strange man was in her house, she was alone, and he was in. Her. House. Yet he called her favored one and said that the Lord was with her. You don't joke around about that. She was about to open her mouth to ask a question when the man spoke again.

"Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear  a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

She looked in his eyes. He's from the Lord, I know it. She wanted to say, "You've got the wrong person," but the Lord never has the wrong person. She was so confused and she began to cry. The man was saying all of these wonderful things, but she didn't understand. How could she, a 12 year old girl engaged to be married, a virgin, conceive a child? Anything of that sort would be called a scandal immediately! The whole town would be in an uproar. Her man, her beloved betrothed, he would be confused and possibly angry as well. But she suddenly felt courage, peace even. She finally sputtered out the words, through tears, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

The man smiled, one of the kindest smiles the girl had ever seen. He spoke again, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy -- the Son of God. For nothing is impossible with God."

The girl wanted to say, "Can I sit down for a minute?" But she didn't, and leaned against the table instead. Her mind was rushing. Everything didn't make sense, yet she had peace. The craziest idea had just been presented to her and she had no idea how to respond. After what seemed like forever of trying to grasp on to the man's words she looked up and said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." The man nodded his head, and left the house. The girl sat down, shock still in her eyes, and prayed. "Lord your will be done."

Now that night, the girl got dinner ready for her man who was going to come by and visit. Right before he was to come, she started to feel sick. Extreme nausea racked her stomach as she struggled to keep her afternoon snack down. It's happening. She started to cry. She sat down as the sobs began to take over her body. How will I ever tell him? In that moment, her man walked in. "My dear, what ever is the matter!" He gave her a hug and in between sobs she told him. The whole story. From start to finish. He got up from the floor and began to pace the room. Concern was in his eyes. "You know I trust you," he said quietly. "How are you pregnant if we are betrothed?" "The Lord," she said, still crying. "The Holy Spirit has given me a son." He still didn't  know quite what to think so he excused himself for some air and when he came back he said, "I'll leave you here tonight. This is a lot for you and I to handle and I think we need some time alone." She understood and they parted ways.

As he laid in bed, the man had many options going through his head. He didn't know if he believed all the stuff about the Holy Spirit giving his fiancé a child, and wondered if he should divorce her, to save her from shame. He didn't want to do that, to her, or to himself but he didn't see anything better. He finally fell asleep and when he did, the strangest thing happened. He had a dream and in this dream, an angel of the Lord appeared to him. The angel said, "Son of David, do not be afraid to take this girl  as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” He woke up and the next morning, ran to his fiancé's house. He gave her a huge hug and said simply, "I believe." And they were married. Despite what the town said, the two of them knew that their baby was extremely special and from the Lord. He was going to do mighty mighty things.

Nine months passed, and at the time their son was supposed to be born, a registration of all the peoples was happening in Bethlehem, a nearby town. Everyone was supposed to be registered so they could keep tabs on everyone living in the different cities. They both rode up together, she being much too pregnant to walk, rode on a donkey, and with every bump she could feel the baby's entrance into the world coming closer and closer. She was nervous and frightened. At such a young age, could she handle giving birth? What if something happened? They got to the town and all of the hotels were taken. All of them. "There's not one room someone could give up for a pregnant girl and her husband?" she asked. Her husband shook his head. He was frustrated and mostly concerned for his wife, who could give birth any hour now. The last inn they checked out was run by a sympathetic innkeeper. "I know it's not much," he said. "But I have a stable in the back. There's a cow and some hay, but you are welcome to stay there." They thanked him profusely and walked around the back. The stench made the girl want to vomit. They tried to get comfortable but it was extremely difficult for the girl especially with her belly being large and very ready to pop. They did fall asleep though, eventually.

"AHHH!" she screamed waking up her husband. "What, what is it?" He hurried to her side. "The baby, he's coming. He's coming!" He didn't know anything about childbirth but he reassured her that he was there for her. Nothing bad was going to happen. She pushed, he prayed, back and forth they went all through the night. Her screams echoed throughout the stable. She wondered why a 12 year old needed to be put through such agony and she repeated what she had said to the angel 9 months ago, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." Over and over again in her mind until she heard a shrill cry pierce the night air. She dropped her head back into the hay and began to laugh. "Jesus, my son, happy birthday." Her husband grabbed some cloths from the saddle of the donkey and wrapped their newborn son in them. He handed the precious bundle to his wife, smiling all the while. "I'm proud of you," he said. They both looked into their new son's eyes, ignoring the filth and dirt of their surroundings. "He is the Son of the Most High, and I am his mother," she said with disbelief in her voice. "It's a miracle." She kissed her husband and they laid their son, Jesus, into the manger nearby. They continued to stare at him until the sun came up. He was beautiful.

With the sun came a group of excited shepherds. "We heard, we heard! The Savior is here! Angels came to us in the night and began to sing about your son! We knew we needed to come and see him immediately!" They went to the manger and began to bow down. Mary had tears in her eyes. For a 12 year old girl she had been through a lot, and now, they enormity of what had just happened hit her, as she saw these grown men bowing to her son, a humble baby lying in a feed trough. And she treasured up all of these things, pondering them in her heart.

And that's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.