Recently, my sister and a friend were traveling to a small (very small) town in Saskatchewan. Although they knew the relative location of the hamlet, they set the GPS anyway. As they drove into the absolutely quiet, deserted, four-building main-street, stopping at what looked to be the Post Office, the GPS lady informed them grandiloquently “You have reached your destination!”. Looking around at the modest locale, they had a good laugh at the sheer absurdity. ‘Really? This is our destination? Not quite what we had in mind!’.
Nothing causes more confusion than the feeling that we are not where we should be. This paradox in positioning between our expectation and the reality of our circumstances, unfortunately, often occurs. Few sensations rival that sickening feeling of helpless frustration, or even downright panic that occur when we are fully disoriented. To lose control, even for a moment, tests all our intelligence, self-command and problem-solving skills. Our internal, spiritual, Global Positioning System is one of our most treasured assets, so when it’s spinning madly, the sensation is distinctly unpleasant.
Nothing messes so thoroughly with our own internal gyroscopes than the Holiday season. It is fraught with the frustration that your time and energy are not our own. Obligations of family and friends double at this time of the year, and very prescribed patterns of behavior are relentlessly imposed upon us. Did we really want to travel seven-hundred miles in winter weather for a lackluster celebration with people we don’t really know? Probably not, but no one really asked our opinion. We were swept on tides too strong for us to withstand. Our cherished, idealistic ideas of 'proper' Christmas get severely pummeled as the days unfold in their own unique way. Silently, we were hoping for something grander, luxurious, more…lofty…than this; but here we are, in middle of Nowheresville. Apparently, this was our destination.
The Christmas Story is the quintessential blow-your-plans-out-of-the-water blockbuster; a multilayered, dramatic, life-and-death saga. Talk about being lost. There’s an awful lot of moment-to-moment swanning around, with even the most devout of humble believers cut adrift and helpless on the winds of change. In what seems to hold no rhyme or reason, a divine swathe of intention cuts its way like a laser beam through these gentle lives and unassuming existences. Instantly, backwoods peasants are catapulted onto centre stage, with all its attendant danger and intrigue. There’s nothing like the fine Italian hand of the Almighty when it comes to weaving in the most significant of ordained destinies under the radar of the lowliest of circumstances. He utterly hoodwinks the enemy. He’s the star, shining magnificently in the paradox of it all. Huge angel choirs, magnificent stars and incredibly wealthy foreigners show up without warning! There’s a lot of action all of a sudden, in the middle of Nowheresville.
“But you, Bethlehem, Ephrathatha, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting”. Micah 5:2
Bethlehem, who’s only claim to fame was as the hometown of David, was no great pit-stop on the road to fame. It was a one-horse town with barely a post-office, hotel and bar. It was on the road to Jerusalem, or it probably wouldn’t have been noticed. However, God had His eye on it, all along. It was marked for supernatural visitation.
In Ancient Israel, the prophet throws out the pungent, almost antagonistic question “For who has despised the day of small things?” (or small places?) (Zech 4:10). This remark follows a divine word to Zechariah about the rebuilding of the temple, a job that seemed a mammoth impossibility. The Lord states emphatically “This is the word of the Lord to Zerrubabel, saying “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts.” (Zech 4:6)
Don’t be fooled by the size of the site. When you find yourself in Nowheresville, count on it, it’s significant! The Lord is (re)creating, at a foundational level. This stuff has His unmistakable, sterling hallmark on it. Whoever despises the day of small things is missing all the ground-leveling, deep excavation, and stone smashing that are essential to huge works of glory. There’s transformation going on, but the reason you can’t perceive it is because it is spiritual in nature…it changes us at a nuclear level. This massive shift requires His spirit, not your flexing of mind and muscle. The Work of the Anointed One is often characterized by humble, natural circumstances without beauty, comeliness in any discernable form (Isaiah 53:2). It is often despised and rejected by worldly celebrity hounds and power brokers. In fact, the Lord deliberately chooses this modus operandi to separate the wanna-be’s from the sincere God-chasers. Much like the Gideon story, the Lord likes to take the troops down to the water, to sort out the seasoned warriors from the hangers-on. What looks like a tedious, long-winded crawl through dreary and monotonous roads will explode out somewhere mind-blowingly powerful. Stop looking for raz-a-ma-taz!! Put your puny resources away. Quit the bluster and braggadocio. Lay off muttering and complaining. All He requires is your acquiescence, obedience and patience.
The selfish and self-important never appear anywhere near Nowheresville. They are not the slightest bit willing to prostrate themselves to mean, modest, even foolish-looking agents. They’ve got way too much real estate in ego to protect. Isn’t it telling that Herod did not trouble himself to fire up the chariot and come down to Bethlehem to see this little king for himself, even though he took the threat seriously? He wasn’t about to demean himself in Bethlehem! No way. He’ll wait for the report to come back, thank-you very much!
Will you let His Spirit lead you into the desert? Into Nowheresville? This is where the moment of miracles and manifestation are found. And it’s only for those who are willing to go down to the manger.