Merry Christmas, my friends. Come sit with me by the manger for a few moments. Emmanuel – God WITH us. WITH you. WITH me. Lord, you have come to dwell with us. Why on earth (pardon the double entendre’) would you choose to be WITH and to dwell WITH? This is where my good friend would tell me that I will never have answers to some questions. It’s part of the mystery of God. I know this is true, but it doesn’t stop the asking. You can ask God questions one of two ways: 1. Accusatory and hurt with a demand for an answer to somehow make sense of the pain you feel, or 2. You can lean in with your question, yet not demand, but accept mystery.
I’ve seen Emmanuel in a zillion ways this year.
God WITH my friend Jane in her cancer battle.
God WITH my sister Abby through heart-wrenching loss of her earthly dad.
God WITH my friends in ministry going through financial hardship.
God WITH my friends as they fight for their marriage.
God WITH my friend Megan as she had her first baby after a heartbreaking miscarriage.
God WITH my friend Jenny who had a baby after three late-term miscarriages.
God WITH my friend Chris who is courageously leaving a home and friends and family he loves.
God WITH my friend Darren as he dreamed of a daughter and saw sweet Addie born – what a great dad.
God WITH my friend Jen as she’s walked through loss after loss and still has a soft heart.
God WITH my Dad as he faced some health challenges.
God WITH my dear friend who was suicidal and now lifts her hands in praise for life.
God WITH me as I did one thing after the other this year that scared me.
God WITH me as I sat through about 36 baby and wedding showers.
God WITH me as I closed on a house I didn’t dream possible.
God WITH me in the mystery.
We mean EVERYTHING to Him.
Lately I’ve been sitting in the chair you see pictured above and the footboard of my bed is right in front of that chair. I imagine Jesus sitting on that footboard talking with me, listening, caring. Never once have I imagined him as a baby, but the past few days I’ve been captivated with the thought that He came as a baby. Emmanuel.
Ann Voskamp writes,
Love had to come back for you. Love had to get to you. This night, you on
this visited planet, your rescue is here. You can breathe. Your God extends
now on straw. Rejected at the inn, holy God comes in small to where you
feel rejected and small. God is with you now. Come kneel close. God waits
for you to draw close. God waits to be held. Tonight, at the foot of the cradle
of Christ, like at the foot of the Cross of Christ, there are no big people – no
powerful or proud. Tonight there are only those who tramp to the manger with
nothing. What can all manger tramps do but wrap the vulnerable God in strips of
bare, broken hearts so He can lodge in the intimacy of us? The greatest Gift laid
into our empty hands……
We come to the manger with questions and leave transformed. Ironically, we probably still don’t have answers, but somehow that’s not as important anymore. We can’t help but be changed in the presence of a baby. Just ask any parent about the birth of their child and they will agree.
Often you will hear me say, “I’m a mess.” This statement bothers some people. It scares them. Somehow they think it is self-deprecating and not walking in all that we are. But I have news for you….we are all a mess. A glorious mess. We are so loved. We are so broken. We are so wanted. So tonight, for just a little while longer, I will in all my glorious mess, sit and talk with this baby – Emmanuel. God WITH us.