Friday, December 17, 2010

Animals, A Pile Of Poo, And A Little Baby

We took a family trip to the zoo this week. Now, while I don't get too much out of it when the animals are laying around asleep, I don't think I ever get tired of watching them when they are active and moving about. My boys are much the same. If an animal is just lying around sleeping, they don't much care about standing around observing that. They are ready to move on to the next one. On the particular day we went we were able to watch the elephants chowing down and moving about, after watching them for a few minutes, one of my boys pointed to a pile of something on the ground and asked me, "Is that elephant poo poo?" I responded with an affirmative and the look on his face was priceless.

Now, while I enjoy visiting the zoo, the animal droppings and the smell they create I could do without. But, if you're gonna have animals, that comes with the territory. There's no way around it. Live animals equal poo and the stink that comes with it. That's just the way it is. As we made our way through all the animals at the zoo, the stink was everywhere. When we got to the chimpanzees, I'm convinced one of them was playing with poo and was wiping it all over the observation window. Yes, I know that's disgusting, but that's the kind of thing you see at the zoo.

If you've ever been to the zoo or visited a farm, you know exactly what I'm talking about here. There is just this odor in the air and images that you can't ever forget. Now, with that in mind, just think of the night our Savior was born. When Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem that night, there was no place for them to sleep except a stable. A barn, if you will, complete with animals and all the stuff that accompanies them. There in the middle of the night, the King of all kings, was born. Right, there with all the animals and the stench of animal poo in the air, God's Son entered our world.

Have you ever wondered why there? God, who created this planet, chose a messy stable. He chose a stinky, dirty, barn to welcome His Son to the world. I'm thinking He could have chosen a much better place than this, but He didn't. A shelter for animals was His choice. So, there Mary gave birth and wrapped Him in rags and placed Him in a feeding trough. There among all the animals, God came to earth.

I'm pretty sure that on that night, if we would have been able to take a family trip by this stable, one of my boys would have pointed to a pile and asked me, "Dad, is that donkey poo poo?" I know we all have an idea of that night Jesus was born but lets get real. If we watched all this play out, we would have thought nothing special of the entire event. A man and his wife with no place to stay, bedding up for the night in a stable and giving birth right there. Which brings us back to why?

Why did the Creator choose this kind of place for His Son to be born? I can't help but think it paints a great picture of why He came. He came because of our mess. He came because this world was a messy place. He came because fixing our mess would require Him to get right in the middle of our mess. Yes, He was born in a messy place but His purpose would send Him on a journey that would prove to be even messier. And every second of every minute of the time He was here, was spent cleaning up the mess we ourselves had created.

This Christmas season, we'll see lights, and bright colors, and take part in festive events. We'll decorate our trees, and wrap our gifts in shiny paper. We'll display our attractive nativity sets in a place where all can see. And in the middle of it all, our challenge is to be careful not to lose sight of the night, God sent His Son to be born in a stinky, dirty, barn complete with animals and animal poo. Because, in that barn that night, with animal aroma in the air, God entered our world in order to rescue us. Yep, God was ok with becoming messy if it meant saving us. So, while there were many places that could have welcomed His arrival, I'm thinking God knew what He was doing when He picked a stable on the special night.

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