For two weeks I have totally and completely submerged myself in family gatherings, events, dinners, parties… and countless hours of quiet home time with my dear wife Margie and our children.
Projects have been shelved. Work has been set aside. Urgent church matters have been deferred to another day. The rush and rumble of daily life has been quieted and slowed down.
And I have just basked in the warm glow and the happy rays of my family’s light.
During that time we have given many hours of thought to a small Babe. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. We know a little about that here at our house.
There is a barn full of animals in the back yard. Each morning and each night Jared and Hyrum make their way to the back acre and milk, clean, feed, and water. There is a manger there that the animals feed out of and a small pile of hay and straw that the hens use for bedding and laying their eggs.
It is not totally disgusting, but then again, it is not a nice Holiday Inn with Serta Plush-top mattresses either. There is a strong, sickly-sweet smell of animal manure, alfalfa hay, mixed grains, molasses, and common, everyday dirt.
I paused a moment the other day when I happened to be out there and considered this tiny Babe. None of my children have been born in such a lowly, dirty, and humble room. They all took their first breath of life in posh, modern hospital rooms, fully equipped with complex machines and intricate medical equipment.
And what of that precious and sweet youthful girl named Mary that carried and delivered the tiny Babe? The mind cannot imagine her humility or anguish of soul at bringing this Babe into the world in a place like that. Perhaps only God and she will ever know the emotions that stirred in her heart at walking to that stable heavy with child.
Staring at the straw, the manger, the feed, the animals, the dirt, and the manure, the words of Isaiah came rushing into my mind, as set to music by Handel, “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords! And He shall reign forever and ever!”
Even now my heart beats wildly at the thought. My mind reels with the splendor and the awe of it. My eyes weep unrestrained at the emotion.
You see it was for me – for me personally, and individually that the great God of Heaven and Earth, the Almighty Ruler and Creator of the Universe descended from an eternal throne to subject Himself to a dirty, smelly, lowly stable.
For my sins, my weaknesses, my stupidity, and my arrogance He humiliated and abashed Himself.
For the hope of my joy, my peace, my happiness, and my safe return Home he came to this earth as a helpless Babe, trusting his glorious Being into the hands of parents just like you and me.
But, while all of this (and so much more) was done for me personally and individually, it was not done for me exclusively. He came for you, too. He stooped below all things for you, too – for all of His children, everywhere and in every time. He came for His children.
Yes, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords came for us. His birth was a call for each of us to come to Him, to embrace Him, to serve Him, and perhaps, most importantly, to follow Him and be like Him.
Can you hear that wee Babe calling to you from that humble stable?
Does the sound of His tiny, pure voice reach out to you and pierce your heart as it does mine?
Does the longing to go into Him, hold Him, and feel of His endless love, consume your heart and soul the way it does mine?
And, my friend, looking on Him – the Father of us all – does a burning erupt in your heart to become a real parent like He is?
Oh, how my whole soul longs to be a real parent like He is! I wish every flaw, every inconsistency, every act of stupidity, would melt away and vanish from my being so that I could take my children in my arms and love them endlessly and perfectly – just as He loves me.
I want to be a parent like my King, my God, my Father.
So, the modern world rushes and swirls around each of us. Today, I will be forced to enter those turbulent waters once again. But through it all, the lowly, dirty stable, with its straw-filled manger stands unmovable, firm and consistent.
The Babe that lies there still calls to us. He yearns to have us embrace all that He is and all that He teaches and all that He offers us.
Today, I may not be able to do it all, or become all that He wants me to become, but I will try. I will try.
I will give my heart to this King of King and Lord of Lords who came to earth as the precious Babe Jesus Christ.