PANTING AND THE MANGER
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. Psalm 42:1
Christmas is often no more personal than the handling of plastic Christmas figurines. I re-arrange the pieces to fit the setting. Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus in the stable. Shepherds a bit back; a respectful distance from the parents. Animals nearby; it is their abode after all. Wise men approaching Bethlehem on camels. It’s art, it’s a display, and it’s tradition to set it in a certain place in our home.
If my heart longs for God as the Psalmist’s does, then the coming of Jesus has huge ramifications. Jesus is God. Longing is satisfied in the coming of the Messiah. To know that Emmanuel is with me is to celebrate that He is near.
My soul pants for a God who is vulnerable enough to become a baby, only to suffer – then to save. My soul pants for a God who, at 30, sees hypocrisy and hard-hearted rebellion in the religious elite and confronts it head on. My soul pants for a God who, when presented with a woman caught in adultery, extended forgiveness and unthinkable love and encouraged her to sin no more. My soul pants for a God who was powerful enough to offer up His life when it was heaven’s time.
He was not a victim, but a triumphant Victor. My soul pants for a God who tells me the truth about my sin so that I can find the joy of forgiveness and the exhilaration of love without condition. My soul pants for a God who was born to serve through suffering, not rule through power and intimidation. My soul pants for a God who calls me friend, not enemy. Bride, not harlot. Forgiven, not condemned. Free, not enslaved. Loved, not spurned.
Christmas morning is close now. My soul pants for You, O God in the flesh. Whatever You say, whatever You require, whatever You offer. Panting means surrender and relief. Amen
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