Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Trying to wrap my head around it...

"Oh, that ramp? Margaret used to ride her motorcycle up into the kitchen after her trips, so it wouldn't get stolen."

I laughed with delight, reading about a female missionary who used every sort of transport. She went afield on horseback. Though she'd never ridden, she bought a horse from the nearby village, got bucked off and jumped back on until it settled down, and hired a horseboy to tire out the frisky beast before a trip so she could ride it. She pedaled her bicycle through the jungles without fear, considering the God who called her more powerful than the lions she saw sitting next to the trails. Her husband dropped her off in one village to preach and continued to the next where he'd evangelize. She was spunky, fearless, and effective.

Margaret is just one of ten missionary women that I'm studying. These women knew the power of the gospel. They loved to tell how God interrupted human history, defining all our stories by his own. Around campfires, in makeshift huts, and in newly built churches, they shared how Jesus came to earth as a baby in an ordinary family, how he grew up and reached adulthood. They told how he healed the lame and restored sight to the blind, expecting God to do the same for their converts. And, not surprisingly, God honored their faith with supernatural healing and provision for them and others.

Today, I'm still reflecting on the beauty of God-come-to-us, which we celebrate at Christmas. It's easy to say, "It's nice of God to be born into a poor rather than kingly environment, nice that he 'walked among us,' and nice that he grew up in a normal family so he could experience human emotions, work, and relationships." And it's true - he did come as a commoner, which is all cool.

I just can't wrap my head around the splendor he left behind, the worship of the entire universe, and the angels at his beck and command. He made everything, knew how it was put together, and understood all the intricacies of math, words, poetry, and physics we explore and wonder at. He set it aside for dirty, sweaty physical labor, walking and riding donkeys, plain food and drink, and siblings who didn't believe he was God's son. Yet we have no record of him sighing, "This is too hard. Honestly people, get a grip! Can't you see who I am?"

There was no "TA-DA, I'm here!" in Jesus' presentation of God. With all he did and didn't remember about where he came from and what his mission was, he never grandstand-ed, never showed off his divine power, and never pointed to himself rather than his Father in heaven. For over thirty years, he worked as hard as every other Galilean. Then he suffered and died in our place. (We proud, faithless, unbelieving, uncaring rabble. He died in OUR place.)

Some day we will stand before the Creator of the Universe. He will ask us whether we accepted the unimaginable gift he offered or if we preferred to go our own way. I hope to say with a crowd of others, "I opened the gift, lived in the shadow of its glory, and love you, O my God, for your generosity!" How about you?

Read more:
*Psalm 147:15-20; Zechariah 8,9; Revelation 19:9-21

*Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and shall be my people. Zechariah 2:11

*In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." Matthew 2:1-2

Moravian Prayer: God, how we stand in awe! Your favor encompasses more than we will ever humanly understand. Encourage us to be life-long seekers, eager to have a closer relationship with you. Amen.

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