I'm still recovering from surgery (wow, this is a LONG, SLOW recovery!), and have been thinking about how we so often encounter God not in the "pretty" places of life, but in those very places we least expect Him to be - in the stink and mess and chaos and just-plain-yuckiness of life. If we look, that's where we'll find Him. It's that way in my life, it was that way in Mary's, and here's hope that it will be that way for you too!
An excerpt from Wrestling with Wonder, about finding hope, finding Him, in life's stinky places:
WHO IS THIS GOD?
Who is this God whose Son is born in a stable? Who is he who is found by lowly shepherds lying in an animal’s feeding trough, dressed not in robes but in rags? Who is he who comes to the place we don’t expect and looks so little as we imagined?
He is the God of the Barn.
We encounter him in the places we don’t expect him to be. Consider the following biblical encounters:
—Job encountered God in a storm, while sitting on an ash heap (Job 2:8; 38:1).
—Abraham encountered God outside the wicked city of Sodom in the heat of the day (Gen. 18:1).
—Jacob encountered God alone in the darkness, in the middle of the night (Gen. 32:22-24).
—Moses encountered God in the wilderness, on the far side of the desert (Exod. 3:1).
—Elijah encountered God in the cave, while running for his life (1 Kings 19:9).
—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego encountered God in the fire (Dan. 3:25).
—And Mary encountered him in a stable . . .…God’s glory is revealed in unexpected places. It is seen in the storm, from the ash heap, at the edge of a wicked city, in the heat, in the darkness, in the wilderness, in the cave, in the fires of life. There we find him. In the barn.
The angel’s words to the shepherds echo down through the centuries to us. God whispers, “You will find a him wrapped in cloths and lying in a feeding trough” (Luke 2:12). Because Jesus is born where life stinks. He comes to us not in our palaces but in the stinky, smelly, dirty, unadorned places in life. And there, only there, do we discover something deep and wondrous about the God we follow. We discover that he is the God who takes our life-yuck and transforms it. He takes the places in life where nothing is as we wanted it to be and makes them the very place we encounter the Messiah born in us.
In life’s stink, mess, noise, dirt, and poking straw . . .…
—He is the God of Stink
—He is the God of Mess
—He is the God of Noise
—He is the God of Dirt
—He is the God of Discomfort
—He is the God of the Barn ...
This is real God—born in the stink, in the noise, in the places that are not as they should be. Born to transform them in you, in me.
So, come, the angels are singing. God is calling. You will find me in the stable . . .