Being Unprepared

by - December 01, 2010

I’m ready.  The tree is decorated, the dining room table is covered in linen poinsettias, the stockings hang at the ready, and the manger awaits in its usual perch on the mantle to receive the Christ child. The gifts are in hiding, the packaging prepared for a long afternoon of wrapping with a cup of hot cider. And the Christmas CDs? Well, in a moment of weakness, I broke them out in September. And I’m confident the other usual traditions will fall right into place:

Gingerbread cookie baking,
Christmas Eve caroling,
Christmas dinner,
the reading of the Grinch and Luke chapter 2.

But now I wish I wasn’t.  I don’t want to be this ready.

 Is it possible to be too prepared?  Does Christmas morning really live up to the hype?

The element of surprise only works once. After a thing is known it’s known. What else can be done now except anticipate it, build it up, make it big and extravagant.  

And I love the extravagance. What, other than a lush celebration, is due the arrival of royalty? Divinity wrapped in humanity?  It's exquisite, right to prepare lavishly.

But I’ve been the wise men before. I’ve mapped out this path to the birth of Christ with gifts in tow so many times that even the ornaments with my precious babies’ faces feel tired and predictable.

I want to be Mary this time. I’d like to be busy going about my daily life, drawing water cooking dinner, weaving cloth paying bills, worshipping in the outer court serving in the nursery, and caught completely unawares. I want to be found by God's angel while I’m planning to marry then quietly grow old with the man I love. I want to be taken by the Holy Spirit’s Song-of-Solomon-kind of passion and my life to take on a whole new One, and a new direction.  Mary had no idea her life was about to be interrupted by baby's first Christmas.

I want to be there when God breaks a four hundred year silent streak. That’s a long time. Four hundred years ago Galileo was unveiling his latest invention he called the telescope, and James the First was about to become a New York bestseller for a certain bible translation he commissioned. That is, if there was a New York.  Those quiet four hundred years were a mere momentary hush before the God of the universe made the announcement of all announcements. He chose to tell Mary, and I want, like her, not to know what to do with all this miracle that I can only ponder the wonder of it in my heart. 

And what of the shepherds? Only one night in all of time would it have been great to be a shepherd. Every other night they were marginalized, disdained, unengaged, forgotten. But, oh, for that one night turned day, they were the ones astonished by an army of angels, entitled to heavenly secret. I want to be there, be them, to hear the peculiar sound of heavenly voices, to see worship from those who had already seen His face, while common shepherds expected an ordinary night.

I want to be sore afraid. I want to never be the same again, nor celebrate by rote because December deems it time. I want to have to grope in darkness until I’m brave enough to follow a Light above and before me to where He is.  I don’t want to know the way.

I want to be undone, caught unawares. I want the thrill of surprise. I need it to be a miracle. I want to be unprepared, so the coming of Christ can again be gift's seeming-spontaneous arrival after long-expected age.

Most Wednesdays I chronicle my walk with Him. This week we ponder the practice of Christmas.

holy experience

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  1. 1) You're ready??? Hats off to you!!!!

    I couldn't be further from ready! More like in denial!

    2) I truly didn't understand the "400 year silent streak" part. Do you mean that God hasn't spoken since the King James version came out?

    Anyway, I am envious of your preparedness, and I know that Jesus loves hearts that long for Him like Mary longed to be with him. Wishing you an extravagantly joy filled Christmas season: you sound ready!

  2. Susan, you know the Princess Bride? Remember when Billy Crystal's character says he's only mostly dead? Well, to make you feel better, I do have a few things still to do. I'm mostly ready. More ready than I ever have been before. I highly recommend it - it's bliss.

    The four hundred years is the inter-testemental period. I only used a modern 400 years to show how long that one blank page between Malachi and Matthew really was. Generations. Lots of them. That's a long time to not hear from God.

    Merry Christmas.

  3. A ha! Chalk it up to a brain that got up at 4:00AM.

    Of course! I see it now.

  4. I really love this, Dawn. I hear you -- I want to be caught unaware, surprised. I want to fall to my knees in awe.

  5. The one thing I love about Jesus is that he always shakes up my "prepared" self and shows me something about Him that I didn't know or didn't expect. I'm not ready for Christmas at all but the snow came today just the same so we are drinking hot chocolate and pulling out the cookie cutters! Your scratched out words and replacements touched me. We should all apply Scripture like that!

  6. just this moment, i finished writing a blog about mary,
    her lowliness and wondrous response to the Lord.

    i love this confirmation from you. you, of course,
    wrote it 100 times better than i could, but whose
    counting? :)

    thank you for sharing at my place about your brother
    and the neighbor's tree. i would have chuckled, but
    my heart is so grieved that you lost that darling boy.


  7. Dawn, LOVED this post. Your words are the heart cry of so many of us out here.

    Your passionate prayer will be answered. God LOVES to give His children the desires of their heart-so buckle up my friend.

    Prepare to be caught unaware!

  8. Oh Dawn I get this too. Michelle and I were talking about this yesterday. I want to be surprised. This is lovely. Just like you. So glad to be sharing this weekend with you.


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