Christmas Past - Pt 2

"Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel, which means, 'God is with us." Matthew 1:23...."I know that my Redeemer lives." Job 19:25..."Satan wants us to believe that there's a place so dark and demonic that Jesus can't come and conquer it." Beth Moore

There are so many times in my life where this Scripture has literally come alive for me. Times when I knew, in ways beyond description, that Jesus Christ, Immanuel, was with me. Not just beside me, but within me. Exercising a presence, comfort, and hope that I could never have believed possible. Times when the words of the old hymn ring out in my heart, "He's real, He's real, I know He's real." One such time was on the morning of my first Christmas after my wife had left. I was back at the home I grew up in, and when I awoke that morning, the weight of the pain and heartache I felt hit me in a wave of heaviness and darkness.

I remember walking downstairs, where the rest of my family was. We had always used Christmas Eve as the time to exchange and open gifts, so Christmas morning was just a time of family communion. At that time, no one else in my family knew Him, and though they had sympathy and compassion for what I was walking through, I felt completely alone. Memories of Christmas past, when my marriage had been whole, or at least seemed so, flooded in. Along with them came the whisper of hell that said that not only was that past lost to me, but my future was as well. All I felt was crushing pain, and a deep desire for all of that pain to be gone. I wanted Him to make all of it go away, but life in this fallen world is not like that. We can try and run from pain and disappointment, but one way or another, they will always catch up with us. And in all of this He wished for me to know and experience something more. Something greater. The pain would not be leaving,, but neither would He, and no matter how great the pain, the grace He poured out upon me would be greater still.

Beth Moore said that Christ means to come to the tomb of our loss and call us forth. On that Christmas morning, that is exactly what He was doing with me. What I remember about that day is mostly that I was tempted to just give up. Give up hoping in Him, holding to Him, living in Him. What I also remember is that Jesus, my Immanuel, my Lord, would not let me give in to that. I felt pain. I knew fear. I had no idea at all as to what would become of me. He had not promised me anything in this place but that He would be with me, that He wouldn't leave me or forsake me. That if I would continue to hold onto Him, weak though my hold might be, He would not leave me here. I wanted to be anywhere but "here," but "here" is right where I was. And I had the promise of His presence, and that promise called me to keep on walking. I was going through hell, but by His grace, I wouldn't be stopping there. He called me forth.

Jesus, Immanuel, got me from that day, to the next day.....and the next one, and onward. I didn't stay trapped in that place. Not physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Jesus is the bright morning star. and though His shining may seem hidden, He does shine. If we'll believe Him, and keep on walking, all the while in His presence, felt or not, we will see His glory break through. He is the God who breaks through. He broke through that morning, and many mornings, and days and nights since. Immanuel; God with us. I have known it to be true in Christmas past, Christmas present, and am assured it will be so in all the Christmas futures that remain for me. It is so for you as well. Do you know it today? Hold on to Him, for He is surely holding on to you.

Pastor O

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   May 2019   
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