I Wonder as I Wander
by Dianne Neal Matthews
Two things I love about Christmas are the preparations and the anticipation. Dragging boxes down from the attic to decorate the house. Shopping for gifts and arranging them under the glowing tree. Planning holiday meals and snacks that include family favorites—and maybe a new dish to try. Getting the guest room ready and counting down the days until all of our children and grandchildren gather under our roof.
Oh, wait—that’s what our Christmas used to look like. Back before my husband’s job change in 2010 moved the two of us across the country. (We’ve had two more relocations since then.) Now each year we have what I call a Road Trip Christmas. Driving a few thousand miles in two weeks or less to see as many of our scattered loved ones as we can. Trying to coordinate work schedules, holiday events and family members’ plans with other families. Hoping for the least amount of snow and ice possible.
Some years we’ve only had a couple hours’ time in a restaurant with our immediate family all together. Two years ago, I woke up on Christmas morning in a hotel room, staring at the stocking I’d hung from my luggage. Not the kind of Christmas I had pictured celebrating in my golden years. Not the type of Christmas I would choose.
But then I think about the night Jesus was born. I don’t imagine the circumstances of His birth worked out the way Mary and Joseph had pictured it. Yet God had His own plans and purposes unfolding in each inconvenient detail.
So this year, as we set out on our road trip, I’ll think about the people who also traveled that first Christmas. Joseph and his pregnant wife making the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The Wise Men setting off on a long journey to search for the newborn King. (I’ll be grateful that instead of donkeys or camels, we’re riding in a car with heat and satellite radio.) When we check into a hotel, I’ll remember the young couple who could only find a stable for lodging.
As we wander from state to state, I will hold on to the wonder that into this imperfect, messy, broken world, a perfect baby was born to connect us with our heavenly Father. And to assure us that once we accept the gift He offers, a more perfect world than we could ever picture awaits in our future.
Dianne Neal Matthews is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books, including The One Year Women of the Bible and Designed for Devotion: A 365-Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation. She also writes for websites and blogs, contributes to compilations (including Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus), and teaches at writers’ conferences. To learn more, visit www.DianneNealMatthews.com or connect with Dianne through Facebook or Twitter.