Let's start with a story...I found this story but it did not give the name of the author. Please note I did not write this story!
Christmas in Prison
During the time when trouble with the Communists was first beginning to be a problem in China, two missionaries were returning from a preaching trip when they were captured. It was Christmas Eve and they had been hurrying, hoping to spend Christmas Day with their families. The captors stripped them of all their belongings, including their Bibles, and put them in a small room together, forbidding them to speak to each other. The men did not know whether they would be allowed to live through the night, whether or not the captors would kill them, and they worried for their families who did not know where they were. The night passed and early on Christmas morning, one of the men had an idea. While the guard was looking the other way, he pulled bits of straw out of his mattress and spelled out the word "Emmanuel." His friend looked at the letters and his face lit up. Emmanuel - God with us. God was with them even in prison. This communication lifted the men's spirits and they were able to wait out the remainder of their imprisonment in peace and joy. After the men were released and reunited with their families, this Christmas became their most memorable. They had learned that the importance of Christmas is not that we are with our families - although that is wonderful - but it is that God is with us - God sent His Son to earth to be with us.
This story encourages me! Christmas carries so much emotion and sometimes those emotions, (although very real when we're feeling them!) can side track us from the truth of Emmanuel - God with us.
Like Christmas 6 years ago. Being 8 months pregnant we couldn't travel to Arizona but I wasn't sad about it because we were celebrating our first Christmas in our new house (and first home) and I knew that my parents would be coming to see me when the baby came. The Boy was a cute as could be. I was carrying new life! Life was good! The emotions I felt were joy, love, and cheer! We can add those to our list from Part 1.
But sometimes those emotions aren't always happy.
Like the year when I was 18. We had had a family crisis that brought 17 years of Christmas celebration with extended family to a screaming halt. That year my parents, brothers and I celebrated Christmas alone. At the time, I felt responsible for all the ugliness that resulted in this separation. And although I felt grateful that I wasn't completely alone that Christmas the emotions I felt that year were fear, rejection, loneliness, and grief. And I assume that my family had similar feelings. That year the emotions would not allow me to see past my circumstances.
How I wish I knew then what I know now. I wish the 33 year old Kellie could go back to that 18 year old and say: "Emmanuel! Kellie. God is with you! God is with your family! You have a future!"
Do you know someone who needs to hear that this season?
Perhaps it is you?
Maybe your circumstances are awesome this year. For instance things are going well for my little family this year. We anticipate my parents’ arrival this weekend and things at the moment are going very well (and I can't resist saying I have a new baby nephew who is just perfect!)
However, I know that I could have remembered "Emmanuel-God with me." When I was trying to find a parking spot among those crazy Christmas drivers!
Perhaps we might remember "Emmanuel- God with us." when we travel long distances with small children and the family pet. Maybe it's when we are relating with family members who are a little more difficult.
I don't know where you are "emotionally" this year...some may be filled with joy and excitement and some maybe struggling...but we can be comforted when we remember:
Emmanuel. God is with us.
He was there in our past.
He will be there in our future.
He is with us now.
Two days ago I gave a definition for a baby. Here is a revised definition:
The Baby King
He was born in a stable, the smallest member of the barn. He was born there at the perfect time, to make love stronger, the home assured, the past forgiven and the future worth living for.
He is Emmanuel. - which means "God with us."