Thursday, December 25, 2008


Risky Business

Whenever I lay my brand new baby down in his crib to sleep, I am absolutely filled with two equally urgent thoughts: please go to sleep, and just keep on breathing! I know it sounds weird but in the same moment, I want him to be quiet and I don’t want him to be quiet. I want the crying to give way to peace so we can finally chill a little bit, and yet I find myself going back into the room over and over again, leaning down into the crib and putting my ear right up next to his little face to hear those tiny breaths… His little lungs are smaller than a coin purse and his airways are like those little straws people use to stir coffee… sometimes it scares me to go to sleep, because what if… you know? It’s just all so precarious! Babies are so fragile and so many of them don’t make it! It seems like all of our time, energy and money are going towards just keeping this little dude alive… just making it through these early stages until he’s not so delicate.

This is what kills me about the Christmas story. It seems pretty risky! I mean, there were so many points at which this plan could’ve fallen to pieces. What if Mary’s delivery had gone wrong? What if Jesus had been breech? What if the chord had been all tangled up? These things happen thousands of times a day throughout the world, but Mary and Joseph didn’t have a labor and delivery room with heart-rate monitors and a doctor on call. There were no nurses standing by with a heated incubator ready to roll, fully stocked with diapers and those awesome striped swaddle blankets. They were in a stable, or in a cave or maybe on the street beside some house because they found a feeding trough where they could lay the baby in some straw and Joseph could lean down and listen to Him breathing.

It just doesn’t seem like a rock-solid plan, you know? I mean, what did the shepherds think when they learned from the angel that Christ was born and lying in a manger? I know they were probably still shaking in their boots from the terrifying sight of winged couriers on fire, but wouldn’t they have felt it strange that God had placed all His eggs in one pretty vulnerable little basket? Surely the Messiah should be in some high security crib surrounded by Israeli secret service, right? What was the King of heaven and earth doing in so dangerous a situation?

Well, the truth is that it wasn’t precarious in the least. Sure, babies are fragile; and yes, tons of them don’t make it, but this One was going to make it, no matter what. Why is that? Because God said so. He said so in the Garden of Eden right before Adam and Eve got booted out. He said so to Abraham when He promised the One who would bless all nations. He said so through Moses when He promised a true prophet. He said so when David sang about the coming King of Psalm 2 who would laugh at rulers and dash nations. He said so when David sang about the victorious warrior in Psalm 45 who would ride forth in behalf of truth, humility and righteousness. He said so in Daniel’s vision of the worshipped and mighty Ancient of Days. He said so when Isaiah told Ahaz that the sign and solution to all his problems would be a child who is God, born to a virgin. He said Christ would be born in Bethlehem and that His Son would be called out of Egypt, and it all happened, just as He said it would.

In Ephesians 1:11 Paul said that we were predestined “according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” Dave Roper said that there is no maverick molecule in this universe. The Christmas story seems risky, but it wasn’t. And the same is true for us… sometimes it looks like everything’s falling apart at the seams, but it isn’t. He’s still in control, still running the show, still ordering and allowing everything in your life that comes into it and it’s all in line with the purpose of his will… His good, pleasing and perfect will. And that is why no matter where you are or what’s going on, you can have a Merry Christmas.

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