Christmas morning, 2019. People all over the world are challenged today with the reality that celebrating a birthday is not the same as celebrating a person. But hey, any ole excuse for a gift right? Forget for a minute the Person, whose birthday is being celebrated, created everything we see or know, or believe we see or know. Just skate right past the truth that this birth was talked about almost 700 years before it happened. Ignore the fact that the conversation during that time was so specific that it could not have been missed or misinterpreted by any sane human being. Don’t bother focusing on the supernatural nature of an angel announcing the event had actually occurred. And finally, whatever you do, don’t challenge the idea that we might have gotten the actual date of the event wrong, both in terms of timing or importance. After all, it’s all about me, and what I got for Christmas this year… right?
Without sounding too much like Ebenezer Scrooge, allow me to share what I didn’t get this year. I didn’t receive a call from my estranged children to say, “We forgive you dad, and we were wrong too.” The one call I long for, yearn for, pray for, and hope for… didn’t come. The photos of years gone by, of happy times celebrating together, are but distant memories that cloud my emotions, and make my eyes start leaking again. Those who know me well, know my story, also know I understand the significance of unintended consequences. On this Christmas morning, I also didn’t have the opportunity to call my dad, and say, “Merry Christmas.” Because he now resides in the kingdom of the Father. The call I would have made to my mother, whom I still miss everyday, is one I’ve gone over in my head a thousand times, for 37 years now. Sometimes, the silence is deafening. The longing for reconciliation is paralyzing.
However, allow me to return to the springboard of my thoughts, and share with you what I did receive this year. It is a gift that continues giving every day, with renewed nuances affecting every area of my life. In fact, this gift came months ago, without my even recognizing its arrival. One day, months and months ago, I was studying for a Bible Study I was to present. Whether I actually heard the words, or whether these words were just suddenly real to my mind as I studied, He said, “I’m right here.”
The same words God had spoken thousands of years before to the first couple in the Garden of Eden, I heard in my mind spoken to me. “I’m right here.” This has been His message for all of human history. This statement is a truth which cannot be undermined by the countless hordes who don’t even believe He exists. The statement is just as true as when Jesus arrived, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger. The statement is just as true as when Jesus walked into that locked room after he had risen from the tomb, appearing to His most trusted friends. The statement is just as true as when I heard or read it some months ago. The result for me was peace. It is true for me. It is true for you. The Prince of Peace said to me, to you, “I’m right here.”
The message of Christmas of course is to bring tangible evidence to what God has said for thousands of years. This is why the angel announced, “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” [Matthew 1:23]
Get it? “God with us,” translates, “I’m right here.”
What God gave me that day, and continues to give me every day since, is the awareness of what makes Him LORD. One of the characteristics of Jesus as LORD is His abiding presence in our world. He didn’t just create us, then leave us to determine our own destiny. He didn’t just come as a baby, only to be crucified as a heretic, and leave us to figure out who He really was. He came to announce, “I’m right here.” And the ongoing promise of these words is found in the realization that every day the message is exactly the same. “I’m right here.”
Do you want to bring joy to someone this year? Call your dad. Call your mom. Call your son. Call your daughter. Reach out to them, one more time, and just say, “I’m right here.” And allow God’s peace to reign supreme in your life and theirs.
The photo image above is a tribute to my sister. She is the living example of forgiveness and grace, and believes with all her heart, the words of Jesus. “I’m right here.”