Just a month ago I began my first Christmas season of deliberately keeping focus on the Christ of Christmas by reading a daily devotional that would, between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, take me through God's plan of redemption from The Beginning through the birth of Christ while pointing to our salvation made possible by His death on the cross and resurrection. In addition to reading the devotionals, I hung a new ornament on a Jesse tree each day, each one a reminder of how God loves, provides, disciplines and fulfills His promises.
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from its roots shall bear fruit. - Isaiah 11:1
As the tree filled, my heart filled with anticipation and excitement about Christ coming, about Christmas Day. This was perhaps my most highly anticipated Christmas ever! Looking at the Jesse tree is a constant reminder of God's care for His people, those of us who choose to receive the gift He has so graciously given.
Four days before Christmas I was filled with an unexplainable sense of awe, excitement, anticipation and joy in waiting for Christ, His blessings and the manifestation of answered prayers. I had great confidence that God was up to something good.
Over the next couple of days I kept thinking about Mary and how she must have greatly anticipated something wonderful as she watched her belly swell with child. During the months of waiting, did she ever doubt what the angel had told her, or did fear try to creep in? Did she ponder just what this God-child would be and do in this world? Was she anxious as she waited to see what God's Son would look like? Then, as the day drew near and labor pains became more intense and more frequent, and she and Joseph were in a dirty barn and she cried out in pain, did she ask God, "how can this be that Your Son would come into the world through all this pain and in this stinky, filthy barn?" Did she cry out, "where are you God?" as she pressed on in labor and did she tremble before Him in prayer? And then, when Jesus came through the birth canal and she heard His cry, did she rejoice? "He is here! Emmanuel God with us! He is here!" Did she thank God for choosing her? For allowing her the honor of participating in and witnessing this miracle?
Shepherds came and told Mary and Joseph what the angels said concerning the child. That they would find him in a manger, wrapped in cloths and that this is the Savior, Christ the Lord! (Luke 2:8-20) Did Mary feel peace that only the coming of the Prince of Peace can give as she pondered and treasured these things in her heart?
Christ came as a baby long ago one Christmas Day and He came this Christmas through "labor pains" as He birthed new life and answered prayers. And He is coming again. It may not always be gentle, but once the "labor pains" subside and His presence is fully here, we rejoice and glory for Who He is and how He loves.
This year, I can joyfully say that Christ has come and I know Him more fully as my Jehovah-Rapha (Healer) and my Jehovah-Jireh (Provider) - physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.
Praise You Jesus! You are coming and you have come!