The Stench and The Stars
First, in Thailand, my team was heading home from a house church meeting and had to drive half an hour through rice fields. We were laughing and singing in the truck bed. My precious Thai sister grabbed my arm mid-song and pointed to the sky. As I looked around and above, the blanket of stars covering us overwhelmed us. Worship bubbled out of us for the rest of our drive through the stars.
When I think back to letting the stars envelope me in Thailand, I imagine the shepherds and the wise men chasing the star that led them to Jesus. I wonder if the glory of the night sent shivers of anticipation through their souls. I wonder if, with every step taken, they felt the presence of God grow stronger.
Second, the animals I was lucky enough to share living space with. Chickens. Cows. Goats. Pigs. Sheep. They’ve poked their heads in the window to wake me up in the morning, they’ve sung me to sleep, and they’ve greeted me in the kitchen at every meal. One thing is for certain: livestock smell. No matter how clean you keep them, they will never have a good-smelling home. They’re dirty. No one wants to live in a pig sty.
When I remember the smells that came with carrying straw bales into the pig sty, I think of Mary and Joseph welcoming a new baby into their lives – a baby that would save their lives. I think of the animals around them and the messiness and the noise having a baby in a stable would create.
For thousands of years, people were stuck in their own filth and brokenness, praying for a salvation that many said would never come. And then one night, the stars changed. Hope showed up in the stables in the form of a newborn baby. God decided the best place to enter the world is in the middle of the stench.
Suddenly, this Good News becomes GREAT news because it shows us that God isn’t put off by our messes. He doesn’t shy away from the stench of our sins. Instead, He inserts himself into the middle of the mess and begins to change the story.
So, here’s to a Christmas of trusting in a hope that meets us in the smelly stables of our lives. Here’s to letting the way God changes the stars lead us to worship at His feet. And here’s to trusting God as He changes the mess into something beautiful.