Emmanuel - God with us.
20 years ago, (December 19, 1999) I made my way toward a small church in a small town – Fonda, NY. There was great concern on my part about where I stood with God. I was only 17 years old, and in need of religion – so I thought. Truly, looking back I was searching for God in a way that most religious people do – selfishly. I wanted a free ticket to Heaven, and I would DO whatever I needed to DO to make it happen. Little did I know that God was drawing me to himself, long before that Christmas week.
It was a cold morning. Dressing in the best clothes I had – I was going to present my best “good” to the King. I did not have to travel very far – and yet I was so far away from Him. Picking up my stolen Bible, and walking outside my front door, ready to become religious, I made my way down the Main street of that wintery small town in upstate, NY. Ready to give my best to someone I never knew personally – and someone who I was NOT certain would even accept it. Religion has a way of leaving men uncertain in the most critical moments of life.
Religion has a way of leaving men uncertain in the most critical moments of life.
As I approached the church I sat back in doubt, fear, and anxiety not even knowing what I would say or DO when I walked in. What do you say when you want to become religious? How do you prepare for religion? What needs to be done leading up to that moment? Sitting back on the old Stewart’s bench on Main and Broadway I was about to turn around and go back home as I saw people pour out of the church building. It was too late, church was over, and there was now an excuse to not become religious on that specific day. Little did I know then that the internal tug to keep going was the draw from someone closer than I thought.
The rest of the story happens like this. I went in ready to DO whatever I needed to for Heaven. However, something different happened. It was told to me on Christmas week of 1999 that I did not have to DO anything… It was already DONE. Jesus has a way of giving men certainty in the most critical moments of life.
Jesus has a way of giving men certainty in the most critical moments of life.
Long before I came – He was already drawing me to Himself. Emmanuel – God with us takes on a whole different meaning to me this Christmas morning 20 years later. I can look back now and see God’s hand ushering, pointing, and prodding me this way and that, to a room where Emmanuel lay. That morning I trusted by faith that what Christ did on the cross of Calvary was the only thing that needed to be DONE for salvation. Nothing more, and nothing less. My religion lost that morning, and the gospel won. I was so far away from Him, and yet He was so close to me on that Christmas week.
Just the same, God is with us this Christmas. If you are in search of Him this Christmas morning it is only because He has been so long drawing you to Himself. There is nothing that you can present to Him that is good enough this Christmas morning. Ironically, all you could ever DO will NEVER DO anything for you. Religion loses every time. He has DONE everything for you, for me, and for all. Long before you thought of where you stand with God today – He was already drawing you to Himself. Truly the meaning of Emmanuel can mean so much more for you this Christmas, 2019.
Emmanuel – God with us.