“Your paperwork is complete and we’ve reserved time for you to see the kids,” she says. These are the same children I took in for awhile when they were homeless; the ones who came to Vacation Bible School months ago. The same ones I told about Jesus. The ones my friends and I fed, clothed, bathed. The same ones recently ushered into foster care.
I hop in the car and it recklessly jerks from side to side across snowy pavement. I meet the parents there. I turn off the ignition and God prepares me. He prepares my heart for the break it’s about to encounter. The parents and I quickly grab the packaged Christmas gifts and race to the door. We blast through double doors into a small corridor and we wait. We squeeze inside a cramped county facility that is home to many orphaned children or children waiting to be reunified with their parents. The room feels small ~ maybe it’s because the need here is so very big. I see watchful children squished in as they gaze into a glass window that separates them from me. Peeking from inside are hopeful eyes and rosy cheeks waiting for the moment when someone comes for them.
I wonder what their future will hold. I wonder if they’ll ever truly know what God’s grace feels like.
A door unlocks and we’re relocated to another room. Suddenly, four shining faces bolt into limited space with us. We squeeze inside, exchange hugs, kisses, and they open their presents. I watch them and remember. I remember the day I came to share Jesus with their parents. I remember the filth they lived in and how good they look now. I remember being squished inside the confines of a motel room.
I breathe in deep and blink away tears.
I am so glad Jesus doesn’t leave us in squeezed in places like this alone. I am glad he meets us in the tiny places. In the narrow spaces vacant of hope. I am thankful he is here filling these spaces, the inevitable gaps, with the hem of his robe and a glimpse of his glory.
I think of Bethlehem and how it had no room. I think of how the parents of Jesus squeezed between animals, between stalls, to place Him in a feeding trough. I’m sure it was muddy, smelly, and loud in there, but the sky twinkled with the light of that star, the heavens bursting with joy at the initiation of God’s promise, Grace.
I look around this place and I know ~ this is what He came for. This galactic God who created the universe, who commanded creation and it stood firm (Ps. 33:9), who left an unrivaled symphony in the heavens, laid aside his crown, exchanged his royal robe for swaddling clothes, and squeezed all of the fullness of God into one tiny womb.
He calls my name and how I am desperate to recognize Him here, right here, in between orphans and lostness.
The squeezed in places, the moments that are muddy and messy and uncertain, this is what He came for. The wounds that our sin carves heavy against our hearts, that’s why He is here. All this doubt and heartbreak taking place in front of me… isn’t this why we celebrate the coming of our King, our Savior? To provide that glimpse of hope and promise and grace he so freely gives?
As we embark on a new year I am thankful … thankful that the birth, glory, and grace of this King wrecks my life every day, in a good way. I am thankful that the Spirit of God leads us through a process of reclaiming the wreckage and putting us back together again and on a new track, the track of his glorious plan.
I know you feel exactly the same.
I’m sure I don’t even need to ask, but lets continue in fervent prayer for all of those families that are in so much unbelievable pain.
My pastor said today that in these kinds of situations people do one of two things… run to God or run from Him.
Pray with me that they are running hard after Him… in their anger… in their agony… in their seeking… for answers and understanding. May His comfort settle on them and give an un-explainable peace and rest for their weary souls.
You may have seen this poem already on Facebook, but I thought it was just beautiful and worth sharing, just in case you missed it…
twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.
their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
they were filled with such joy, they didn’t know what to say.
Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA
When it comes to Mary, people tend to go to one of two extremes. They either magnify her so much that Jesus takes second place (Luke 1:32) or they ignore her and fail to give her the esteem she deserves (Luke 1:48).
Mary’s humbled submission to the will of God always overwhelms me. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her, (Luke 1:38).
In every spiritual transaction there are three forces at work. The Word of God ~ what God promised Mary; the Will of the person ~ Mary chose to follow God’s plan; and the Work of God ~ the Holy Spirit came upon Mary. I am not as trusting as Mary. But I desire to be more like her ~ believing in the promises of God; choosing His plan instead of my own; and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through me. How amazing that the same God who used Mary can use us too.
This year as I unearth new yet simple treasures from the Christmas story, there are six things I learn from Mary. They are:
Mary knew that her future, her body, and her reputation were not her own but her Master’s. Therefore, she was free to let go and let God do His miracle in her. I pray in this New Year that we all follow in obedience like Mary, offer our lives as we deny ourselves like Mary, and submit completely and radically to the will of God no matter the cost… just like Mary.
He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just,” Luke 14:12-14.