In spite of all the good with which God has enriched my life, I sometimes struggle to live in a way that reflects God’s lavish, extravagant spirit by passing His goodness along to others.

Tim Hansel, in his book, When I Relax I Feel Guilty, told a story that relates to the idea of “noise” (see previous post):

An American Indian was in downtown New York, walking with his friend, who lived in New York City. Suddenly he said, “I hear a cricket!”
“Oh, you’re crazy,” his friend replied.
“No, I hear a cricket. I do! I’m sure of it.”
“It’s the noon hour. There are people bustling around, cars honking, taxis squealing, noises from the city. I’m sure you can’t hear it.”
“I’m sure I do.”

I spent my two final years of high school in the city of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio. During those years I was pretty fond of Ted Nugent, KISS, and Rush. No, Barry Manilow did not make it on my “playlist” in those days! Ever been to a concert like that? It defines the word LOUD.
As I mentioned several posts back, we live in a loud world. The noise that distracts and overwhelms us is not just “noise” that can be measured in decibels. “Noise” comes in many shapes. Sometimes it is visual “noise,” or schedule filling “noise”—but in every case it drowns out what is really important.

When Jesus was still a newborn, Mary and Joseph took him to the temple to present Him to the Lord and to make a sacrifice. While they were there, they met two very interesting people: Simeon and Anna. To me, what makes these two so interesting is their willingness to listen to what God told them and to obey—even though it was very uncomfortable to do so.

In our last post, we learned how Mary, Jesus’ mother, had good ears, was ready to hear, and receive what God had to say. You might say, “Well, it’s pretty easy to hear God, listen, and receive what He has to say if an angel shows up and delivers the message!” That may make sense, but we have a pretty profound example of the opposite in the Christmas story.

When we consider the heroes of the Christmas story, the most exemplary has got to be Mary, the unwed, pregnant teen. In the account found in Luke 1:26-38 MSG, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary in the town of Nazareth, in Galilee. He had a message for her. You would think that his first words—“Good morning! You're beautiful with God's beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you” (Luke 1:28 MSG) would be received happily! But Mary was not so sure. She was troubled and wondered what that could possibly mean!