The Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary at Christmas

Written by Max Lucado
Published on December 27, 2019

There is one word that describes the night he came—ordinary.

The sky was ordinary. An occasional gust stirred the leaves and chilled the air. The stars were diamonds sparkling on black velvet. Fleets of clouds floated in front of the moon.

It was a beautiful night—a night worth peeking out your bedroom window to admire—but not really an unusual one. No reason to expect a surprise. Nothing to keep a person awake. An ordinary night with an ordinary sky.

The sheep were ordinary. Some fat. Some scrawny. Some with barrel bellies. Some with twig legs. Common animals. No fleece made of gold. No history makers. No blue-ribbon winners. They were simply sheep—lumpy, sleeping silhouettes on a hillside.

And the shepherds. Peasants they were. Probably wearing all the clothes they owned. Smelling like sheep and looking just as woolly. They were conscientious, willing to spend the night with their flocks. But you won’t find their staffs in a museum nor their writings in a library. No one asked their opinion on social justice or the application of the Torah. They were nameless and simple.

An ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds. And were it not for a God who loves to hook an “extra” on the front of the ordinary, the night would have gone unnoticed. The sheep would have been forgotten, and the shepherds would have slept the night away.

But God dances amidst the common. And that night he did a waltz.

The black sky exploded with brightness. Trees that had been shadows jumped into clarity. Sheep that had been silent became a chorus of curiosity. One minute the shepherd was dead asleep, the next he was rubbing his eyes and staring into the face of an alien.

The night was ordinary no more.

The angel came in the night because that is when lights are best seen and that is when they are most needed. God comes into the common for the same reason.

His most powerful tools are the simplest.

Take for example the place where Jesus was born.

A small cathedral outside Bethlehem marks the supposed birthplace of Jesus. Behind a high altar in the church is a cave, a little cavern lit by silver lamps.

You can enter the main edifice and admire the ancient church. You can also enter the quiet cave where a star embedded in the floor recognizes the birth of the King. There is one stipulation, however. You have to stoop. The door is so low you can’t go in standing up.

The same is true of the Christ. You can see the world standing tall, but to witness the Savior, you have to get on your knees.

So. . .And the elite were dreaming
And the successful were snoring,
The meek were kneeling.
They were kneeling before the One only the meek will see. They were kneeling in front of Jesus.

Get daily emails with practical and spiritual advice geared towards helping you set aside perfect and grow into the parent you want to be every day.

Max Lucado

Lucado says he “writes books for people who don’t read books.’ Even so, his best-selling books have sold 100 million copies across 54 languages worldwide. Perhaps Lucado is converting non-readers with his poetic storytelling and homespun humor. Perhaps readers can sense that his encouraging words flow from the heart of a pastor.

Every trade book Max Lucado has written during the last 30 years began as a sermon series for his home church Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. Max presses every word of his sermons through this sieve: Why would this matter on Monday morning? How can I relate the promises of God to every person, wherever they are, regardless of the burdens they carry?

Since his first book On the Anvil was published in 1985, Max Lucado has been sharing the promises of God in sermons, books, articles and media interviews. His writing is also featured in videos, devotionals, songs, plush toys, greeting cards, booklets, Bible studies, and Bible commentaries. 130 million of these products have been sold around the globe. His books regularly appear on national bestseller lists including the New York Times.

Max’s 40th trade book, Unshakable Hope: Building Our Lives on the Promises of God, released August 2018. This new title explores twelve of God’s promises upon which Max has depended for his entire adult life. “The promises of God work,” Max writes. “They can walk you through horrific tragedies. They can buoy you in the day-to-day difficulties. They are, indeed, the great and precious promises of God.”

National press has noted the global influence of this unassuming Texas pastor. Max Lucado was dubbed “America’s Pastor” by Christianity Today, and Reader’s Digestcalled him “The Best Preacher in America.” The New York Timeshas named Max one of the most influential leaders in social media. He has been featured on countless media outlets including USA Today, “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show,” NPR, CNN, and “Fox & Friends.”

Max Lucado’s childhood was both idyllic and simple. Max was raised in Andrews, Texas, a town with a population smaller than the current membership of Oak Hills Church. Max’s dad was an oilfield mechanic and his mother a nurse. He spent much of his childhood chasing or being chased by his beloved brother Dee. Once Max became a teenager, rebellion kicked in. After one specific drunken night, Max began to wonder if there was more to life than parties and chasing girls. He believes now that if Jesus hadn’t changed his heart, alcoholism would have been in his future.

During undergraduate studies at Abilene Christian University (ACU), Max grew to realize God was bigger—and better—than any rebellion. Max left ACU with two degrees and a heart for telling others about God and his faithfulness. Max’s first ministry assignment was as the associate pastor of a small church in Miami, Florida. In that position he developed his passion for people, ministry, and writing. He began writing when he was assigned a column in the church’s weekly newsletter.

While in Florida Max married Denalyn, now his wife of more than three decades. Max and Denalyn moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1983 to help plant churches. During their five years in Brazil, Max continued to write, updating friends and family back home about their ministry. Eventually Max gathered the Brazil newsletters and Florida columns into a manuscript and sent it off to fifteen publishers. After multiple rejection letters, one publisher finally said yes. In honor of his four decades of pastoring and publishing, Abilene Christian University has become home to the Max Lucado Collection. A curated collection of Max’s manuscripts, journals and personal correspondence are archived and displayed at ACU’s Brown Library.

Max and Denalyn live in San Antonio, Texas, and have three grown daughters, two sons-in-law, and two grandchildren.

Read more about Max

You may also like…

Privacy Preference Center