Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
I keep coming back to Tai’s post about the Highways to Zion. Something about a real city, a physical image of the kingdom community, goes so far to help me understand what it is like to know and to come close to Jesus as a real person, a real God, a real King. That is what I thought when I saw this Christmas card. The baby King was born away from the people He loved, out in a little stable, or a lonely shepherd cave, but this manger cradle is tucked into a doorway. It made me think of the city of Zion, and Jesus’ own words, that He is the door. He didn’t just grow up to be the door. He wasn’t even born to be the door. He has always been “God with us,” the example we have of what our Father and His Father is really like. And this is how He first comes to us; later, it will still be meek and riding on a donkey, washing feet, and with death for a coronation, but at the moment this new and glorious morn breaks over a weary world; a world that lies in sin and error pining, mourning in lonely exile; at that first moment, the reigning King comes as a person probably not even ten pounds, and not even able to lift His own head.
How can Jesus love us so much that He wanted to be so helpless in such a broken world?
I think of how often I can get caught up in everything that needs to be done, and everything I can try to do to make myself better; how I often worry about waking up at the right time, whether or not I know my Bible as well as I should, and always trying to know the right things to say at the right time. We so often weigh our closeness to God with how much we can carry. Then, we come to this little door: the way, the only way, to come to the Father.
It is such a sweet thing to hold a baby, to memorize the features of a sleeping face, or watch brand new fingers take hold of your own. One precious blessing is that you cannot be overburdened with luggage and hold a baby at the same time. As we come to this perfect door, we must put down everything else. Sometimes, it is as though everything else just melts away in His presence. Other times, it is a fight against our nature, and the belief that we now have to find a way to balance all of the cares of our lives and our Christian obligations, and still find a way to carry a baby too without hurting Him.
It is quite impossible, and it is meant to be. The first and hardest habit to break is trying to protect ourselves. Can you trust that the Lord will hold back the anxiety and the fear, and protect you from every enemy thought while you spend time with Him? We shouldn’t have to be looking over one shoulder when we are in His presence; we aren’t meant to. It is the place of absolute trust. Trust He showed us by example when made Himself vulnerable to every mother’s worst fears, even before He was born. He showed us how to become little children in trusting His safety to His Father, even during the time of such violent kings on earth.
Christmas does not need to come with any expectations. The anticipation of beauty breaks our hearts when we have rested that success on ourselves. Those expectations are meant to be trust given to Him; fears He will erase when we come face to face with His innocence: a purity that has outlasted the darkness of one thousand generations. I pray that He will again be the light of your holiday this year.
by Stephanie H.
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