Wednesday, December 9, 2015


There's something inherently impossible about Mary. You remember that, don't you? There's something inherently impossible about a young virgin bearing a child, about a scared little girl praising God in the uncertainty, about anything good coming from Nazareth. (And that, by the way, is a comment not just on Jesus, but on His parents, too. He was only from Nazareth because they were, which means this Mary and this Joseph? They couldn't have been good, either.)

It's far too easy for us to get wrapped up in the possible, even in the possible that comes only from the impossible. Jesus has taken on our very flesh and come to earth; do you know what this means? Do you understand all the possibilities that opens up? Of course. That's what most of us spend the Christmas season celebrating. But do we remember that what now seems possible is only so because of the seemingly impossible?

Here's the problem: we live our lives on the brink of possible. Ask any man what he thinks about nearly anything, and he's bound to tell you to some degree what that thing makes possible. What do you love about sports? They make victory possible. What do you love most about your wife? She makes it possible for me to be a better man. Do you think it will rain today? It's possible. We spend our lives talking about what's possible; everything is about its possibilities.

And sadly, we've extended this language to God. With God, all things are possible. I can do all things (all things are possible) through Christ who gives me strength. God makes it possible....Jesus makes it makes it possible. There's no mystery in possible any more. It simply is.

Even if, as we've long forgotten, it never was.

We lose something when we fail to contemplate the impossible, when we forget to remember how unlikely this whole life of ours is. We lose something when all we think about is what's possible, or what must be possible since it actually is. Even in a time such a this, the Christmas season, surrounded by a story that is all kinds of impossible, the story has become so routine, so mundane, that it doesn't feel impossible any more. It doesn't feel impossible because it's clearly happened, it's clearly real. It must be possible because it simply is.

Of course God gets virgins pregnant. Of course they travel long distances in their ninth month. Of course they give birth in barns. Of course there's always that one bright star in the sky pointing toward something incredible. Of course the shepherds would wander into the barn in the middle of the night (when, it must be noted, wolves are most on the prowl and pose the greatest danger to the flocks). Of course three wise men are going to go see what all the hubbub is about (because even as wise men, they haven't the foggiest idea).

Of course God wraps Himself in flesh and comes to dwell among His people. 

Of course it's possible. We hear the story every year. It's possible because it's happened. 

But the danger is that when we start to think this way, especially about something so miraculous, so impossible as the Christmas story, we start to think this way about everything. It's possible if it's happening or if it's happened. It's possible if God is doing it. And though we say that all things are possible with God, we don't really mean that. We only mean they're possible if He's actually done them. 

There are still impossible things. God just doesn't do them. (They are impossible. Duh.) 

Because the impossible became possible, and then it became routine, and then it became nothing at all, and when we fail to remember how impossible this whole thing is, we forget that our God is the God of the impossible. We forget that He is always doing what seems to be undoable. Then when we run up against the impossible in our own lives...we can't. He can't. No one can. It's impossible. Impossible things don't just happen. They can't.

Except they do. All the time. 

God is doing them.

There's something inherently impossible about Christmas. You remember that, don't you? Good. 

Because when you remember that God has always done the impossible, maybe, just maybe, you dare to believe He's still doing it. 

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