The perfect gift in imperfect circumstances.
Think about it. An apparent ill-timed pregnancy–Mary and Joseph endured the scorn of their friends and family. A burdensome census—it required travel at the worst possible time. Less than hospitable delivery conditions—she delivered in not much more than a cave, dugout, smelly and dirty. Shepherds called away from their post—leaving their sheep, they came to see a baby. On a perilous journey—they came from the east based upon a prophecy and a star. Warned in a dream—they fled a king who would shed innocent blood to protect his throne.
The perfect gift. A redeemer at the right time, in the fullness of time, for our sake, for our redemption.
It helps me to stop and marvel at that thought. In the past two years, I’ve walked both of my daughters down the aisle. Each time, it was a magical yet moving moment. On my arm, they glided in front of admiring audiences. And finally, that walk ended, and I let go of my grasp and placed their hand in the hands of another.
As hard as the letting go was at that time, I’ve found an altogether different joy. New son-in-laws. New members of the family, and a grandson. He’s called Clayton—now just 8 months old. If I never would have let go, I would never have experienced this current joy.
So I wonder if that’s how it was for God the Father: to let go of the hand of his Son and place him into the hands of a harsh cruel world. Born to die. Born to sacrifice. But thankfully, He was willing to let go for the greater joy of redemption—for me, and a lost world.
That’s the lesson, I’m learning over and over again. Be willing to let go. Being willing to die. It’s the message of Christmas. It’s the message of God with us. It is a hard message because it means sacrifice. But it is a good message with far greater reward—so great in fact that the riches of this world will never be enough compared to what we’ll see in heaven.
I think Martin Luther summed it up best:
“I’ve held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”