“That’s where baby Jesus is.” Said the three year old, bright eyed girl pointing at the manger, the rustic, splintered wood, feed trough like structure. “Yes, my love, that’s where He laid.” I replied.
“He went there too”..she pointed up at the wooden cross. “Yes, baby He did.” I replied with a lump in my throat.
I looked down at her as she wrapped her tiny arms around my leg. “Mama Mary is with Him?” She asked. I nodded and scooped her up into my arms as I too looked upon the manger and cross.
At this point, the explanation I could give was limited due to fighting off the emotions. What a bittersweet story of love and sacrifice my heart recalled while holding my own sweet child in my arms. Oh, sweet Mary, what must you have you felt. Oh, sweet Jesus...
Our heavenly king, came as a tiny baby, soft, pure, wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a structure that many wouldn’t even touch with a bare hand, not to mention lay a baby in.
As I thought of this picture, I saw the stark contrast between fancy cribs and nurseries of royal families. I remember how particular I myself was over my own children’s nurseries.
I was reminded, again, that our God doesn’t need fancy or shiny or even new. He searches for a vacancy.
The reviews that the world offers, the ideas we have in our mind of what is fitting or worthy do not sway Him or determine His lodging plans. No, He resides where He is welcomed. He even waits patiently for the ones who turn him away.
Guess what, He longs for our hearts to be the Bethlehem where His manger will stand. He wants to rest in our hearts, with the jagged, splintered, worn pieces...Our hearts, with the cold, empty places, the dusty corners, and the tiny rustic manger to be where He lays His head. Have you invited Him in to stay?
He goes on to face the jagged, splintered, torture of the wooden Roman cross. Once again, the King didn’t discriminate. Even then, He took what the world gave Him.
On that cross He extended invitations to paradise. The criminal being crucified beside Him was invited, all it took was an open heart.
Even on the ragged, worn, wood of that cross our sweet baby Jesus made His home in the manger of the criminal’s once jagged heart.
Death was then defeated - conquered once and for all for anyone who will receive Him.
Our King is still looking for hearts to be born in - will you let him lay in the Manger of yours?
Merry Christmas dear friends. May God bless and keep you always.
Thank you for your son and that He came to be Immanuel, God with us - not God with just one or the other but with us all. Thank you for His life, His sacrifice, and the gift of eternal life. Help us to spread that gift. Unite us all through you. We love you.