Over and around the scattered toys in every room of the house, I look at my children, my sweet, tender-hearted Anna, my precocious Hanson, and my … well, my Emily. I watch them grow. I watch them stretch. I watch them learn. We have sweet, quiet moments (when they are asleep), and we have loud, crazy moments (when they are not asleep). We have love and laughter. We have discipline and tears.
My children have an uncanny ability to push the boundaries in the house.
“No, Anna, don’t touch Daddy’s remote.”
“No, Hanson, don’t push random numbers on the phone.”
“No, Emily, don’t throw the bone at the dog, throw the bone for the dog.”
“No, Emily, don’t eat the cat food.”
“No, Emily, don’t flush the whole roll.”
“No, Emily, glue is for paper, honey, it’s not a food group.”
If you visit our house, you will not hear ‘no’ all the time … just a lot of the time. The children don’t find the ‘yes’ areas of our home quite as fun as the ‘no’ areas. At those times when I feel I am losing my mind, or when I have one nerve left and the children are gleefully pouncing on it … I consider Jesus.
That tiny infant born roughly two thousand years ago so people like me can have eternal life. I know Jesus didn’t disobey Mary or Joseph. There was no sly look out of the corner of His eye. There was no distraction conspiracy, no arguments over homework, no repetitious pulling of stiff socks from under the bed two hours after laundry call. Mary had a perfect child. Jesus never sinned. No flaws. No defiance. No tantrums. A perfect child; a perfect adolescent; a perfect adult.
During down time – usually around midnight – I take the time to wonder …What did Jesus’ laugh sound like? What color were his eyes? Did he learn to throw a baseball? Was he ever afraid of the dark? Did Mary have to shut the closet door and banish all monsters before bedtime?
Despite all of Jesus’ perfections, I am reminded of one thing: Sure, there were no flaws, no defiance, and no tantrums, but this child – this Holy One – was born to die.
Jesus’ main goal was not to walk across the water. His main goal was not even to heal the sick and make the blind see. His main goal … the ultimate accomplishment of His life … was to die.
I pull the small metal car out of the bottom of my foot and try not to cry out when I stub my toe against the discarded pile of books in the girls’ room. I resist the urge to scowl when I consider the manger.
Then I smile, as I smell the hay and hear the animals make their night-sounds. Mary hums and the baby purses his lips as unseen angels whisper in his ear. I look up and in the distance, dimly lit, is a hill. A place – the place of the skull. And I see this infant, now a man, with a cross on His back. He is bleeding and torn. He is bruised and … and … the cross has my name roughly carved into the wood. He carries the cross made for me.
I frantically focus on the infant in the manger, asleep in the crook of Mary’s arm. His tiny fingers. His tiny toes, His tiny brow that will all too soon wear those thorns …
Trembling, I look up. The cross is still there, only now, you can no longer see my name. The blood of the one hanging there covers it. Jesus’ blood covers my name. All for me. Me! I should be there.
The baby stirs. He makes his perfect baby sounds. He opens his newborn eyes and I know … His perfection, His obedience, His love, His life for my eternity.
I look from the manger and the cross to the mess on my living room floor, and I know they will learn in their own time. They will continue to grow and to stretch. They will continue to learn and to laugh. They will continue to tread upon my wilted patience. And … I will continue to consider the manger.
Welcome, Holy Child.
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