I woke up to the stench of manure and the sound of goats only to remember I was currently in a place that I never wanted to be. The woman I was soon to marry was forced to give birth in a barn and the only place for her baby to sleep was in a feeding trough. This was possibly one of my worst days. I was pledged to marry a woman that had given birth to a child that was not mine, and we had no better place to stay than a barn.

I remember looking down at her baby. He was carefree. He did not care that he was literally born in a barn, surrounded by the most unclean animals, and placed in a bin of fodder. All he did was smile and reach up, wanting my soon-to-be wife to hold him. My wife took him up and held him close to her, kissing and hugging him. He was her world. My wife also looked at me as if to ask whether I wanted to hold him or not. I was hesitant in holding out my hands.

After taking the babe and holding him close, I realized that, though this was not my son, I would raise him like a son. I would teach him to be a carpenter knowing that one day he would build kingdom for his mother and brothers and me. My son was to be the Messiah that would free his people from worldly oppression. That was something I did not understand.

My son lived his life not to please others, but to please the God of Abraham. He performed more outstanding miracles than others of the day and waged war against the corruption of the world. His entire life, my son worked on a kingdom much greater than what is imaginable by men. Though I did not live to see it, my son, Jesus, lived little more than thirty years only to give the greatest gift that had ever been given: himself. Because of that gift, each and every human being has an opportunity to regain a perfect, eternal relationship with the Creator of the universe. For Christmas this year, accept the greatest gift ever given. Accept life.

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