Our travels have circumnavigated the globe. It's an amazing thought. As we have visited so many different places and I have written about our travels, I have struggled to clearly picture in words how those areas and people appeared to me. Think about the most glorious sunset you've ever seen and then try to put it into words. Once you are past the oranges, reds, purples, pinks, etc. it gets more difficult and it is impossible to capture the magnificence of the moment and the emotion it evokes.
Taking a photo or even a video of the experience does not do it justice either. There may be some beautiful pictures as a result, but it will still not equal that one stunning scene that will be embedded in the archives of your mind.
Now imagine the miracle of Christmas. In our heads, we see what others have told us. We see images others have painted--and those mostly as an impression of the words used to describe the scene. Scripture does not recall a donkey (exactly) for Mary to ride on. Nowhere does it say that there was an innkeeper but we insist on that as part of the story. The three kings were three wise men--but wait! Now we don't even know that there were three. There could have been more since the Bible doesn't really give a number. And they didn't arrive until Jesus was around two years old.
In our joy, in our desire to celebrate this great miracle, we have tried to picture what we were not there to experience. In doing so, we have created lovely pictures on cavases and in words that have come to symbolize our Christmas story. While every detail may not be exact, the truth still remains. God sent his only Son so that whoever would believe in Him could have eternal life.
In my mind, I have a picture of heaven. It's based on several places in the Bible where heaven is described. I'm sure the real thing will look nothing like what I've pictured. It will probably be much more glorious than I could ever describe. Does it diminish what God has prepared? No. It just gives me something to look forward to.
However you picture your Christmas story, a stable or a cave, a donkey or a cart, three wisemen or a dozen, may you focus on the one thing we all know to be true: God's promise fulfilled in His Son, Jesus.