[A year ago, I wrote the words below in an email to a few unspeakably precious friends. It’s uncharacteristic, but I have nothing I would edit about it. The best thing about the wilderness is the way Jesus meets you there. I pray its truth finds you today. I pray He finds you today. And if you are in a dark place, know this – He is there too. Louder, and more tangible and more yours than you ever imagined.]
Today I saw this on someone’s Instagram: “We celebrate the gift of living in a time when the Messiah has a name and a face, when you and I wake up and get to breathe in His completed work and walk in His Spirit.”
It caught me off guard. Because I wrote that. I wrote those words sometime in 2014.
And today – when I saw them, my heart felt so overwhelmed with some kind of feeling that I can’t name; some kind of fullness that refuses to be categorized.
Because I know who He is – the man who sat with me. When the waves collapsed over me and I sat there rocking in the dark trying to make myself believe ‘it’s just a feeling and it can’t kill me and it will pass’ – eyes squeezed shut so I didn’t have to see any more mirrors reflecting back to me darkness and nothingness – hands pressed on ears so I wouldn’t have to hear any more accusations – I knew Him: the God who was there.
He was crouching beside me. Telling me to open my eyes and look at Him. And pulling my hands from my ears – so I could hear Him talking, telling me story after glorious story after a God who I know and who knows me. Stories about the day when His own family thought the Spirit of life within Him was an unclean Spirit, when they gossiped about His sanity. Stories about the number of people who seemingly sabotaged His ministry with their inability to obey Him. Stories about that night in the garden when His friends couldn’t stay awake and His Father said no to the prayer request He wanted most. Stories of putting His life in the hands of people who wanted Him dead. Stories of being exposed and naked before friends and enemies alike. Stories about the weight of sin and shame that crushed Him at the end.
And before I realized it, my eyes were open and on Him – captivated and listening and falling in love with this man. I learned that in the moments of dark and fear I could turn to Him and ask Him to tell me a story of His days. Before every hurdle He would turn me toward Him – one arm gripping each of mine and His gaze steady and sure and His face – so clear – so real and near – this God, this man that I know. It’s just you and me. And we would go in together. To whatever was next.
Because Christmas. Because He came. So He is not an idea or a legend or a hope as He was for thousands and believers for thousands of years. That was enough for them. But for me – when He picked my times and places He had such mercy on me. To choose now, when I would get to know these things about Him; when I would have his life and words written down so I would know who I was tethered to in the storms.
This is Christmas.
I don’t know how to get over this Gospel. I don’t know how to move on from this grace. I don’t know how to move at all anymore without feeling His grip on my arm. I don’t know how breathe out here on this water that longs to swallow me without His gaze on me – so knowing.
This is my Jesus. A God who doesn’t just care about me actually being understood – but who cares about me knowing I’m understood. He knew me – He understood me from Heaven. He’s God, of course He knew and understood. That was enough. But at Christmas He gives more. He came down so that He could speak my language, and in the darkness of failure and fear – He could share Himself with me and let me experience being understood.
I wish I could give Him to you for Christmas. I wish I could find the words to wrap around Him and make the shadow or the idea of Him feel as real as He is to me in this moment. But that is His right alone.
So I’m praying for each and every one of you – that He would give you this – give you Himself as real and raw and tangible as He has given me Himself.
And I might pray that He chooses a different road for you – one with less failure, one with less dishonor, one with less pain – but the truth is – I’m not any good at writing story arcs. I’ve never been good at seeing the end from the beginning. The best I can do is try to capture the moments that happen around me. But He’s great at the epic journeys, great at keeping the end in mind. So best let Him do His job. Best give you up to Him since you’re His anyway.
He wins. It’s His right. His story. And if He can make magic out of the mess I have made – He can make light out of any dark.
For unto us – unto fabs – a child – not just a God – was given. And His name is no longer just a description of what He will be like. His name is known. His name is Jesus.