In recent weeks, I've been reading several Advent devotionals to prepare my heart to embrace the gravity of this day. One reading in particular reminded me that the word "Advent" means "coming," a fact I'd never known, or either forgotten long ago.
And even though I still struggle to truly grasp all that happened in that little manger in Bethlehem thousands of years ago, that thought - that truth - jumps out from nowhere and shakes me like a friend begging me to come to my senses.
Do you see it? He didn't observe everything happening in our fallen world like the outsider He truly is. He saw us lost without any hope. And instead of leaving us to believe the lie that we were truly living without Him, instead of relishing in our rightful punishment, He pulled up the train of His holy robe, which the Bible says fills the temple, got off the throne of heaven, came down to our tiny planet, and became like us.
He dirtied holy hands to save us, and it would cost Him his life.
He came anyway.
That means more to me now than it ever has. I can't ever remember being in a situation I couldn't get myself out with hard work and effort. But that's the thing about depression. It doesn't care about your drive or your discipline. You work harder at being happy, at being truly OK, but it just laughs in your face. You feel powerless to pull away ... to make yourself better ... because you truly are.
And that's the trouble with your struggle too if you're honest. We'd all like to believe we can fix ourselves ... fix our lives ... and some of us live our whole lives trying, only to realize at the end that all our trying sums up to nothing.
Try fixing losing a loved one. Try fixing the betrayal of a friend, a sibling or a parent. Try fixing the brokenness of a failed marriage. Or a miscarried baby. Try fixing discontent. Or resentment. Or jealously.
You've tried. I've tried. We're all playing Olivia Pope, friends. But at our core, we suck at fixing. We can do a pretty good patch job, but we can't cure our hearts. At the root of it all, we're terribly hopeless in need of a hero.
So Jesus came.
As a superhero in a cape? As the King of Kings He truly is? As a mighty warrior? As the commander in chief of angel armies?
No. As a tiny, defenseless, helpless baby. Just like one of us. A sinless, perfect and pure hero, came to offer himself - not for the damsel in distress, not for the innocent child facing imminent harm, not for the pure at heart, or the noble, or the brave. No, we are none of those things.
He came to die for crooks. Liars and cheaters and fornicators and gamblers and foul-mouthed thieves.
The hero came to die for us, the villains. And even as He offered his precious life, we spewed hate at him, reviled Him, tormented Him.
And somehow ... somehow this is God's perfect plan. To rescue the undeserving. To show mercy to the helpless. To truly fix us.
And even if you can't get excited that He came. Even if the fog in your life is so thick you can't see it all clearly this Christmas. There is hope for you.
He is coming. Again.
And this time, we won't have to read it in a book or try to visualize it in our finite, limited minds. This time, we will see it with our own eyes.
Are you ready for the day He comes to take those He loves to be with Him forever?
That, dear friends, will be the merriest Christmas of all.