Can you imagine that long ago night? The reality of it is very much on my mind today. The braying of the donkeys. The stench of sweat mixed in with varying animal smells. The sounds of the animals hooves on the dirt floor. The darkness. Joseph’s whispered encouragement. Mary’s moans of pain. Did she know enough to focus on her breathing? She must have. Did anyone come to help? Was anyone aware before the angels appeared to the shepherds in the fields? Mary knew. Joseph knew. How much did they tell people before Jesus was born? How did Joseph protect Mary from persecution for being pregnant without being married? He must have married her right away. God’s hand was on them both. The Bible doesn’t give any account of the wedding though. I imagine it was kind of an elopement.
If God first appeared in the flesh in a stable, of all places, then there is nowhere he won’t appear. In the midst of grief, he is there. He will take everything you throw at him, and then he’ll forgive you, because he is big enough to hold your sorrow and your anger along with the rest of the world’s. When you refuse to acknowledge his presence, that is when he’s the most present.
It took me a long time to realize this, and even longer to understand it. I had so much pain when I was growing up, so much anger. I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand why I had cancer and why things played out the way they did. Why am I so weak when my spirit, my soul, is so strong? I do not know. But someday, I will. I know I probably would not be where I am physically today if things were different. I probably wouldn’t be writing this, probably be working somewhere doing something else. I’d like to think that maybe my heart would be the same. That maybe I would have become a counselor of some kind, a psychologist or maybe even a social worker. I would be working with sick kids. Forever a advocate for the children.
Today, I am thinking of a message in LeAnn Rimes’ book, “Holiday in Your Heart’: We are so far from God, who do you think moved? I come back to that time and time again, and the answer’s always the same. I moved. I am the one who gets ahead of God, or maybe I am the one who lags behind. I know it must be true for you too. Isn’t it for everybody? When everybody else abandons us, we can rest assured that we are not alone. He remains with us. Nothing can drive him away. He’s there until the end, until we join him in heaven. Whereas we sometimes doubt his presence here on earth, we will be fully aware and fully immersed in HIM there.
This Christmas Eve, I challenge you to check yourself: Are you in the same place as God? If not, you have some work to do. Go back or go forward, whichever it may be. It may not be easy for you to relinquish control of your life, but trust me when I say this: it will be worth it. Whatever you are carrying around in your heart, you don’t have to carry.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” ~ Matthew 11:28 NIV