Christmas is almost here and I want to spend more time thinking about what it means before it’s all over and life rushes forward. I want to think with my words: to stop slow at the manger and breathe- and grasp something of what it means. So I want to try and do that in a blog post, if that’s ok.
I want to imagine, for a few moments, that I’m there too- in that world-famous little stable in the tiny little town of Bethlehem. It’s just me imagining, but here goes…
There, in the manger, lies a baby. He is weak and vulnerable. He is newborn, only a few hours old. He may be shivering. There may be baby cries. It is probably dirty and smelly and cold, and the world is new and strange and not very welcoming.
This is my God. This is God the Son, eternal and wonderful and equal with the Father. This is the One Who created this world… for the world was made through Him.
‘All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.’ John 1:3
This is the One Who planned me out; Who designed me so intimately and lovingly in my mother’s womb… Only, now, He has been formed in a womb, too… And the plan for His life is full of tears and suffering… So that the plan for my life could end only in eternal good.
My God spoke the universe into being. He placed the stars in the sky. He sits enthroned above it all. He holds it all together. None of it could exist without Him. Yet, here He is… Asleep in the straw. Tiny hands. Tiny feet. Tiny lungs. Tiny frame.
He must learn like any of us did… How to speak… How to walk… How to work.
But He existed before any of it. He knew it all before it was ever around.
Yet here He lies, so small.
If I could go there, I would want to hold Him. I would ask His mother if I could cradle Him… If I could hold Him close… And, if I had been there, I could have done: hold in my arms the One Who made me; the One Who is holding me all together even now. And I’ve always loved holding babies but this One is different… This is my God… And I’d be terrified that I’d drop Him but how can you drop the One Who is holding you all together? And yet He made Himself breakable… Hurtable… Crucifiable.
And I would want to cradle Him; to protect Him; to keep Him safe from all the suffering down here. But, if He did not suffer for us, His people’s suffering would never end. That’s why He came.
It’s stunning and astounding and crazily, breathtakingly good.
I could walk outside with Him in my arms; gaze up at the stars He made; the stars He is holding together; the galaxies He formed… that ‘were made through Him’. (from John 1:3) I could breathe in the good, clean oxygen that He needs to breathe too. But, then, it would be cold outside… and He would be so very small… and the stable, however dirty, is shelter from the cruel world… The cruel world that He will live in for 33 years… The cruel world that He will die to save.
For it won’t end here, in the stable. He will grow. He will suffer. He will feel pain down here. He will cry. He will hurt. He will be betrayed. He will love and serve and counsel and help and heal. He will change so many lives for good.
His beautiful, wonderful, world-changing life will lead to the cross… To the agony for my sins… To the bursting forth from the tomb… To the eternal reign of glory and justice and joy. It will be so glorious… And so painful… And so good.
Maybe I’d be too overwhelmed with His presence to take it in. Maybe I could only feel awe… and faltering, trembling, tearful love. But maybe there are some things I could take away…
If God loves me so much, that He would give me His only Son, how will He not also give me everything else I need? If He cares this much… If He loves this much… why do I ever worry about the smaller things? He gave His own Son. He will freely, abundantly, give me His best… because I know He already has.
’32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ Romans 8:32
God is not distant. God is not far away. God came this close… into the very heart of the mess. I can let Him into my mess, too… let Him come close… and let Him work.
God has given Himself to me… to us… to all who will accept Him through Christ. He gave Himself at the manger, and He has given Himself to us for always. This Gift will never be taken away, if we only receive it. He is God with us… and He always will be. Through every need… every trial… every moment. He is mine… He is ours… for always…. forever.
And how can I keep this to myself? I cannot leave the manger unchanged… and I cannot leave it silent. Too many others need to know… need to encounter Him as I have done… need His love to change their lives forever.
It’s stunning and overwhelming and life-changing. I cannot take it in, but I cannot stay the same. And right now I just want to wait here: to gaze: to hold Him close in my arms and marvel that that’s what He is: close.
(If you don’t know Him yet as Saviour and Lord, come to the manger… come to the cross… turn from your sins, surrender your life and receive His full and free forgiveness. He loves you so much that He came so small… and so full of love. He longs to meet with you).
May you have a very blessed and happy Christmas. 🙂
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.