Friday, December 9, 2011

My "Immanuel" Moments

This Advent season I've been thinking about those very special, even sacred moments of my life - call them "Immanuel" moments - when God came near to me. When in the midst of crisis or pain or on a wave of great joy or in times of surprising epiphany, God shows up. Immanuel - God with me. Of course, God's always around, everywhere, all the time, but sometimes, much to our amazement the dark night suddenly lights up, angels sing, shepherds watch, kings bow. God shows up, unmistakable and unforgettable. May I share a few of my "Immanuel" moments with you?
  • As a little boy and the youngest of eight kids, it was a big moment for me when on Christmas Eve as we gathered around our tree, it was finally my turn to read the Christmas story from Luke's Gospel. As I read the words I could imagine the Christ Child smiling at me.
  • Once on the back porch of our home, as a sixteen year old boy I sat under a starlit sky and heard Him whisper my name. My life would never be the same.
  • Late at night lying awake on my bunk at college after my first date with Suzanne. I was just beginning to learn how to love from the Original Lover who seemed to be whispering, "Don't blow this, you dope."
  • In my little blue VW, stuck in a snowstorm and in a storm of heart-breaking circumstances, I suddenly realized I was not alone. Bethlehem's Boy was there in the bucket seat beside me.
  • The nurse in labor and delivery just said, "Here, hold your daughter," and introduced me to my new owner, a baby girl who along with her brothers, staked a claim on my heart and would teach me more about God's love than all of the colleges and seminaries put together. 
  • I remember a rental house just a few blocks from our church, as I was delivering all of the Christmas that we had collected for a struggling family. A young nursing student and mother of three thanked me as I carried in each load and assured her, "There's more, there's more." I'm pretty sure that Christ came with me, but He decided to stay awhile after I moved on.
  • It was an intensive care unit, as I held tightly to the hand of a precious friend and partner in ministry and assured her of our love and God's care. Someone with scars of His own came near and in a little while He took her home.
I call them "Immanuel" moments, when the God who came near long ago comes near to us, right in the middle of our lives. Tis the season to remember and reflect on your own "Immanuel" moments. How about telling your story? Maybe that's part of your "Good news of great joy" that is just too good to keep yourself.

And whether we laugh or cry, sing or sob, we know the Gift has been given, the Promise has been kept, a Savior has been born to us. Call His name Immanuel.

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