I have been thinking a great deal lately about the supreme ironies involving the birth of Christ. The fact that the King of Kings would choose to come to earth in the most humble and vulnerable of circumstances, is one example.

He could have chosen to descend from heaven in full Kingly array to the astonishment of all who witnessed it; or He could have just appeared with a myriad of powerful angels at His side, causing all to fall trembling at His feet.

Instead, He came as a helpless human infant. While worldly kings are born in palaces surrounded by servants, the King of Kings, our Lord, was born in a manger surrounded by humble circumstance. 

This amazes me, but then so do most the aspects about Christ’s life. It also humbles me and causes me to think that maybe the “palaces” we so eagerly erect in our minds, and diligently pursue with our time and energy, may not be that important in the bigger picture. Maybe, we should embrace our mangers too. 

As a young man, I had a number of dreams and goals for the future which I was sure would be realized. Yet few have actually come to pass and none have emerged completely as I had imagined them. To a large degree, these were palaces erected in my mind as images of success. 

In reality, my life has had more mangers than palaces – mangers in the form of disappointments, persistent difficulties, and humbling circumstances; mangers in the form of dreams deferred and opportunities missed; mangers in the form of circumstances that I would have envisioned as failure in my youth. 

But maybe God had something else in mind. Maybe it is in these humble mangers that life really happens and God is really honored. Maybe it is in embracing these mangers that we learn and grow.  And maybe then, by focusing on our mangers as opportunities, we will gain the perspective that motivated Jesus to humbly submit to circumstances so beneath Him. 

Maybe, it is in learning to hold up under trials and difficulties or humbly learning from failures and circumstances less than ideal, that we grow up into Christ. Our palaces may provide better views, but faith, humility, wisdom, integrity, determination, poise, honor, honesty and love are taught in our mangers. 

May this Christmas provide an opportunity for all of us to embrace the life of Christ, in our mangers.