"God with Us"

(An updated version of this entry is posted on “Escape from Averageness” every year at Christmas)

 

The intrepid, results-based consultant wearily settled into one of the chairs in the airport club of the airline she was flying this trip.

“Where are you headed?”, asked the man sitting in the chair beside her.

“Home.”

Home.  Simply, home.  The last week of road work for the year.  She was headed for a well-deserved break with her family – her soon-to-be-larger family – and friends.  She was looking forward to it.

“And – if you don’t mind me asking – when is your due date?”, the man continued.

“I don’t mind, at all”, she said, touching her abdomen.  ”The first week of March.”

Her cell phone rang.  It was an old business friend.  They talked about families, about well-being, and then about business.  “How was 2012?”, he finally asked.  “And – how are you doing, really?”

“I tell people that the sixth year of six-figure declines from personal peak income has been almost as much fun as the first five”, she laughed.  It was now a tired joke, told too many times, for too many years.  She was glad she still could laugh about it, even though she now had to count the years on her fingers to make sure it was right.

“But, you know – in every way that really matters – I am doing very well.”

“In that case, Merry Christmas”, he said.

“Same to you.”

Her mind turned away from work.  She thought about the pending birth of her own first-born child, the hope and apprehension, the joy and inevitable challenges to come, the changes to their lives, the newness it would bring.  Her thoughts turned to Christmas, the one almost here and each previous one.  And, she thought about the first Christmas.

She wondered what the tiny town of Bethlehem must have been like, so long ago.  She thought about another young mother and father-to-be, who had made their trip with few resources, facing an uncertain future.  She thought about their now new-born son.  To almost everyone else, he was just another faceless child, born in an insignificant city, into a world under the power of the Roman Empire.

She considered the character, the attributes of the Creator of the universe, the Author of all that is good.  She thought about His grace and mercy.  She thought about the words of the apostle Paul, buried deep in his first letter to the small group of believers in Corinth, describing faith, hope, and love, the principles of the grace she now pondered.

She leaned further back into her chair and closed her eyes.  “Thank you”, she prayed, softly.

“Thank you for giving me a faith that looks back into history and trusts that the claims this child would one day make about Himself are true, and that every moment of time and event of history either points towards, or proceeds from, that truth.

“Thank you also for giving me hope;  thank you for giving me a hope that understands eternity means never-ending, not just somewhere-down-the-road;  thank you for giving me a hope that looks forward from the perspective of the eternal life I have right now, but also understands that, one day, this world – with its share of both joy and pain, and varying degrees of fulfillment – will end, and I will live, constantly and eternally, in your presence.”

The intrepid, results-based consultant thought about the final point of gratitude, and considered how everyone viewed her as such a practical, in-the-moment realist.

“And, yes, thank you for giving me a love that does – and always will – sustain me, motivate me, and give me purpose and perspective, until either Christ returns, or until You call me home.”

The intrepid, results-based consultant thought about the events of that night, so long ago.  There was a birth.  Later, there would be a death and a resurrection.  In between, there would be an earthly life.

“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”  (John 1:4).  Her thoughts were about newness and life.

“And you shall call His name Immanuel.”  (Is. 7:14)

“God with us.”