God is With Us!
Who is God? How do you see Him?
I’m not asking about your theology, your intellectual analysis of the Being Who spoke creation into being, or your assent to proper doctrine. Instead, how do you actually see Him?
Do you sense His frown? His stern disapproval building up until He lashes out at you with pent-up frustration?
Do you feel His distance? His serene indifference to the pain that is all-consuming for you and a mere speck in the grand tumult of the universe?
Is He a narcissist jealously coveting your complete attention? Is He your insecure and needy friend? Is He a game master waiting to reward you if you manage to place the right words in the correct order? Is He a force waiting to be wielded by you? Is He the childhood fairy-tale growing less and less believable?
Have you over-read the Christmas story? Do you have a vague familiarity with shepherds, musical angels, and generous wise men? Are you bored with Baby Jesus?
I don’t remember not knowing the meaning of Christmas. I can accurately rattle off the pregnancy of a virgin and her honorable, wounded, and confused fiancé. I can detail how a refugee family miraculously fled from the infanticide ordered by a paranoid tetrarch. I can tell you the meaning of Emmanuel and why all human history is divided into BC and AD.
But do I really get the significance? Do you?
Christmas can be distracting. I love the present giving, the parties, and the magical decorations. And I rush through the Christmas morning scripture reading to get to my stocking. It’s hard for me to treasure an event that happened 2000 years before my life began.
My quiet time can suffer from the same malaise. The day ahead seems more significant than ancient church struggles. The wonder of being near Jesus can be dulled by the fact that He’s been near me from my earliest memories.
Emmanuel wasn’t so precious to me until I sat next to a crazed man in an ER room reserved for psych patients. Years of mysterious seizures, relentless depression, a weekend of family medical emergencies, and that day’s positive pregnancy test, had weakened and overwhelmed me to the point where I didn’t trust myself to resist the barrage of suicidal thoughts. And now, in the hospital, the people I had gone to for help and safety stayed safely on their side of a thick pane of glass, while I sat with a man forced in by three policemen.
Since the Fall, God and humanity have been separated by a thick pane of glass, a necessary barrier between the perfectly Holy and violently corrupted. Those who even attempted to be moral couldn’t manage to be good enough. Moses couldn’t bear the sight of God’s face and in turn, the mere glimpse of God’s back made Moses’ face too unbearably bright for the Israelites. We are by nature cut off from Life Himself, caged in with death, and at the mercy of Satan.
God didn’t stay on His side of the glass. The Maker made Himself into the image of His image-bearers. The Holy One broke Himself for the broken and became sin for the sinful. God stooped, Jesus was born, the glass broke, Satan screamed, and the Spirit came to dwell within all who cry out for the Savior.
Instead of frustration and disapproval, I met God’s patience and tender love. Instead of a frown, I found a smile.
Though family couldn’t reach me and the nurses stayed distant, Jesus drew near. My pain was eclipsed by His attention to every detail of my life. Humble, gentle, and lowly, He took my shame. He gave Himself for my need and died to break me from bondage to sin, death, and Satan.
God is not a Game Master but a Shepherd, firmly guiding me through this and every valley. Not a Force to use but a Father to trust and obey. Not a fantastic fairy-tale or a flimsy hope of but sanity Himself for the desperate. The God who never left will never leave or forsake me, because of the life, death, resurrection, reign, and coming return of Jesus.
Jesus was nearer through that night than ever before. That night of fear, imprisonment, and shame was the beginning of a year of jubilee as my mind cleared, my body healed, and I was freed up to delight in the birth of my third son.
Friend, do you see Jesus? Let’s be humble enough to rejoice that God came to be with us! Let’s dwell on every facet of how far He stooped to raise us to life. May Christmas be delightful, not distracting, as we tirelessly gaze at and treasure the Baby Who is God.
|Emily Miller began having daily quiet time at the age of thirteen. This habit has been one of the few constants in her life as she transitioned from being a missionary kid in Mongolia to a barista in Oregon to a stay-at-home mom in central Florida. The Word of God has anchored Emily to Jesus through depression, struggles with doubt, health issues, and her son’s cystic fibrosis.|