“The virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name him Emmanuel," which means “God is with us." Matthew 1:23 NCV
As Christmas day is approaching, I find my present spiritual condition to be fitting for the event we celebrate. As I feel like I'm in a spiritual rut, more connected to my brokenness than usual, slowly dying in a spiritual desert, I seek for comfort in so many other ways than adoring the Savior. So the irony in that is, one of my favorite songs during the Christmas season is, "O' Come All Ye Faithful." And in my wicked heart I'm refusing to listen to that song because I am having a hard time worshiping that truth. Instead, it's screaming, "No, I'm not coming. He hasn't been faithful. Look at all the destruction around me. Where is He? I'm dying here and He's doing nothing. Yeah, I'm not coming to adore Him."
But can you imagine the night, whenever the events started to happen? (Please stop arguing over whether December 25th was his real birthday or not. Either figure out when He was born, or shut up please.)
But again, can you imagine the night? You're going through a casual afternoon and an angel appears to you out of nowhere? You freak out, because this look like a scene from a horror movie that you know you shouldn't have watched. But the angel says,
"Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news that will be a great joy to all the people. Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)
Excuse me? My Savior?
So we walk and go check it out, because now we're curious. I mean, we had heard rumors about a coming Messiah. The prophet at church had said it a few times, but, ya know, we never take stuff seriously until it's on Facebook anyway. And no one's mentioned it on there, so, let's just go check it out.
And you get there, and you find the baby just like the angel told you how you would find him. "My God! He is faithful! He said He was going to send Him, and He did!!"We all rejoice.
Can you imagine the exclamation of awaited joy? The long awaited Messiah is here? The Savior that we spoke about amongst ourselves and had read in our scriptures, wow, God, You came through! This baby boy is going to bring us redemption!!!
And I can't help but to imagine the joy welling up inside of their hearts in that moment. As they stare at the baby with shy grins, wondering how in world this moment was happening. And it makes me think about the 21st century. Today, when the spoils of life begins to ruin our hope. When the rich encouraging Sunday's message wears off by Monday's lunch break, or when the constant beat down of life and disappointment and unmet expecations and hopelessness and brokenness, when all of that is surrounding us, if we could imagine the moment. If we could imagine the moment these shepherds enjoyed.
"Here's the baby boy that's going to take all of that away from us! This one right here! He's going to redeem us, save us, adopt us, make us His own. Here He is! HE IS HERE!!!!!"
Emmanuel, God is with us.
I love how the New Century Version writes it. It doesn't just say, God with us. Because it seems the biggest lie we believe is that God has removed Himself from us, as if it should read God WAS with us. No. He IS with us. He IS with us, ready to breathe life into all that believe and wants to be born again and made new. He IS with us, allowing us to face challenges to grow our faith, which leads us to a greater enjoyment of Him. He IS with us, when we are going through trials for His name sake. He IS with us. We are not alone here!
So this Christmas I rejoice. I will rejoice in the fact that a baby boy was born to redeem me. I will stretch my faith to investigate why the Bible greats seemed to know something about Jesus that I don't seem to know. I mean, they were devoted regular, ordinary men just like me. And here I am, iffy and wavering, inconsistent and petty. So either He's showing some extreme favoritism, or they know something I don't know about our Savior. Maybe I don't know how He can be sufficient because I haven't come to Him emptied and watched Him fill me. Maybe I don't know the depths of His grace because I haven't brought my many sins to Him and watched Him wipe all my shame away. Maybe I don't know His great love because I refuse to allow the greatest lover of all to embrace me. Maybe that's why my devotion is so weak.
There's a baby boy that was born to redeem us from this, which is why we should come and adore Him. He was faithful, so He IS faithful. Take heart the good news, says the angels.
So I say, take heart the good news. God IS with us.