Don’t Leave Him There

I tried to read the Christmas story yesterday. Not the one about the BB gun. The one about Jesus being born in a manger. From Luke chapter two.  I say “tried” because it took three attempts for me to get through it.

It’s such a beautiful story to me, and I wanted to hear it old-school, King James, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger” because that’s how I learned it so many years ago. And maybe it’s because I know the ending, but I just got overcome with emotion at the thought that God Himself would leave the safety and beauty of heaven to come in such a low and meager way. For me.

After several tissues and raised-eyebrow looks from my husband, I finished reading. Y’all, I felt like I’d been to church!! My heart was full, and I felt cleansed and new. And a little raw.

Still this morning, I am overcome with the joy of the Lord after a blessed Christmas Day with some of my family. I’ve read the story again this morning, sans tears and snot, and I am struck by the thought that the sweet baby in a manger is where a lot of people keep Jesus. They love the Virgin Mary kneeling over the manger of hay, full of Emmanuel, God With Us, Christmas-card perfect halo glowing around His head… But they never let the Prince of Peace grow up!

As I write, I’m hearing music in my head. New words. New music. I need to get this written down, but for now I hear a chorus that goes something like:

Don’t leave Him there, tender and small!

Don’t keep Him stuck in a manger, tiny and helpless and new.

Let Him grow up into your heart

and bring all the Love that His Father sent Him to bring for you.

Jesus did not die on a cross so that we could drink egg nog, watch movies, and spend ourselves into bankruptcy. True, our Lord loved a party and even turned water into wine at a wedding reception! But that tiny Baby in a manger came that we might have LIFE, and have it more abundantly.

The beautiful thing about our Savior is that, just like the wise men, we can bring him our gifts… The best that we have, whatever it may be… And it’s enough. And if all we have is water, He will turn it into the best wine imaginable.

He is born!!!

The Birthday of a King

A little piece of my heart flew away yesterday. It was the size and shape of my daughter and her precious baby boy. I knew it would happen and that yesterday was the day. They were only here for two weeks after all. But somehow it must have gotten lost in the translation from my brain to my heart, because the reality of it, the FACT of it, felt like a kick in the gut.

I wonder if this feeling of overwhelming grief that I won’t see my daughter or her family for a very long time… Unable to hold my grandbaby in my arms again until he is walking and doesn’t want to be held… is this heartache even a drop in the bucket compared to the heartache God must have felt when He said goodbye to His only son? On the day Jesus was born in Bethlehem, was God grieving over His son, knowing what Jesus would have to walk through on this earth before His Father would see Him again?

The song in my head this morning is The Birthday of a King. I accompanied a wonderful tenor a few days ago on this old hymn, which was written in 1890 by William Neidlinger. It is beautiful in its simplicity.

Alleluia! O how the angels sang.
Alleluia! How it rang!
And the sky was bright with a holy light
’Twas the birthday of a King.

I know the Angels were singing alleluias. I know that Mary, Jesus’ mother, was overcome with joy for her newborn son. And maybe Joseph was able to put aside all his worries when he saw that precious newborn king in Mary’s arms. But God??? I don’t know. I DO know that my heart aches a little for God, and that one of the questions I’ll have for Him when I get to heaven someday is, “How could you let Him go?” Not “why”… I know why, and I am eternally grateful for the gift!!!!

Maybe the “how” is a little like how I could put my daughter and grandson on that plane yesterday. Because I had no choice. Because it was the only way she could get home. God sent His son because He had no choice if the world was to be saved. Jesus’ birth was the only way we could have a hope of ever getting home… To our heavenly HOME.

If God’s heart hurt like mine does right now… Well, that’s a God who loves me and a God I can love right back.

Click here to listen to The Birthday of a King. This is the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir version. I confess… I’m a huge fan!