The Most Unusual of Places
- Thursday, December 25, 2008
There is a gift I would like to receive this Christmas that I am certain will be deferred—perhaps not forever—but for now.
What WILL be there, as it has been for so many years is “the gift of singleness.” I cannot say I will open this package with joy, but I will open it. I will open it because, at least for this year, it is His gift to me and I know He loves me.
Where is that anticipation that used to give us sleepless nights leading up to Christmas? Where is the childlike faith we used to have that the next morning would bring blessings untold? What has happened to the conviction that “God is LOVE?!” We need only look to the manger. For the manger calls to us, saying:
“Lift your eyes you who mourn.
Look up downcast soul.
Day breaks where darkness ruled.
Life springs from desert streams.
Love has heard your cry.
Love has come at last.”
There is a danger in being honest. There is a danger that the little window I have sheepishly opened might be thought the full view of my soul—the sum of who I am. It is not so. I feel deep sorrow but the Joy of the Lord has carved a deeper well in my soul. Joy to the WORLD—the Lord has come!! Rejoice—God cares!!
I confessed the longings of my heart. I admitted the pain my spirit has harbored at the long delayed joy of marriage. I confessed these not to explain to you who I am—I pray I am not so shallow—but to let you know that life is comprised of such moments and such emotions. I speak with such candor so that we who are human, we who have human emotions might not think ourselves odd.
- To be real is spiritual.
- To be broken and healed is spiritual.
- To confess and to confide is spiritual.
- And yes, to rejoice is spiritual for God is with us. Emmanuel!!
Christmas, the manger is evidence of God’s grace and the grace of God is deeper than the darkest shadows of night, brighter than the strongest rays of day. It is greater than all that plagues us, richer than our poverty. It must be so or there would be every reason to fear walking through the valley of the shadow of death. There would be no cause for the confidence we speak if He were not—“with us.”
The Father’s grace is stronger than the currents of life that threaten to drag us down, more sure than the ground on which we stand. This must be, or our struggle to reach shore would be futile. It must be, or the rumble beneath us would seem more than foreboding, more than mere threat.
The grace of God is boundless, limitless, timeless, and extravagant. Grace does not falter due to the frailty of our faith and is not threatened by our honesty. Grace does not cease due to the persistence of sin. The extent of our need does not exhaust grace. The depth of our emptiness does not consume it.
Grace is ever held out to the prodigal, ever extended to those in need. It is ever available to we who fail, to we who even at our best—are not good enough. It is we, the sick, who need the chief physician, who crave His healing touch and so—our need will never deplete His grace.
- What have I to say to those who despair?
- What Have I to say to those in need?
- What have I to say to those who have cried their last tear?
Look to the manger! You are not forgotten. The life of Christ confirms that no degradation is beneath God’s love. There is no place that grace will not go to meet those in need. In the midst of our trials and failure, in the midst of our longings and hopes—God appeared. We need never fear that we are alone. While our arms were too short to reach Him and our prayers merely murmurs—Christ came down to let us know God cares and His manger is evidence of God With Us.
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