"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:23
God with us. I love just thinking on that simple phrase. Jesus was born and come to earth so that God could be with us. God wanted to be with us. Up until that time, God wasn't with us- He wasn't with man. God had to be separated from us because of our evil ways and the bad choice made way back in Eden. In order for God to visit with man, it could only be done deep within a labyrinth of thick curtains, so as to protect man from dying from the glory of God.
"Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim worked into it by a skilled craftsman. 32 Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. 33 Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the Testimony behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. " Exodus 26:31-33
Only the high priest was allowed to be in the presence of God- and only then, after much purification and preparation. But God sent His beloved son to us so to tear away that curtain- to tear away the great chasm that stood between God and man, and to atone for all of our sins. Every single one of our sins has been bought and paid for, and now God is with us all the time. And He is good, all the time.
The devil would have us think otherwise. He would have us think that God is only good sometimes- that He's only good when things are going perfectly right and wonderful. I have to say, that it is my experience that God is good all the time, but really, it's the low times when we notice more often that God is so good. And honestly, this may be where I totally messed up. When Andy was doing very well at work, and money wasn't a concern, we would thank God for our blessings, but we wouldn't notice the small blessings. We would completely miss the little things that God would put in our lives just for us. And even the big blessings, they were great, but we maybe didn't give God the thanks that we should have. Or the glory for the abundance we had for a time.
But now, in our time of drought, God's blessings are evident each and every day- sometimes several times a day. It is a blessing this morning, that the coldest day of the week happens to be the one day that we don't go anywhere. It is a real blessing that yesterday Andy and I felt inspired to clean up the house and put up Christmas decorations- it looks so clean and festive and joyous in our home. Last weekend was an incredible blessing, as Andy's willingness to volunteer led to a paid weekend away for the family, and the kids got to swim in a swimming pool to their hearts content. And I got to simply rest and relax and spend time thanking God for all my blessings. Even this morning, the kids are celebrating Christmas break from school by pulling out all the stops when it comes to play time- watching them and listening to them is pure joy- and such a blessing.
All these little things that we just miss when things are going so wonderful. And while I'm certainly ready for things to be wonderful again, I am very careful when I'm talking to God about that. Because what I don't want is for everything to perk up and take a turn for wonderful, and then forget where we've been. Someone asked me not to long ago, if money was no object, what would the difference be in my life? It actually made me a little nervous to think of that, because if money were no object, if it wasn't an issue, I would want, more than anything to stay where we are with our focus on Him, and to use that money where He would have us to use it. The thing is, right now I know what it is like to be in need- and even though we're in that place ourselves, the crazy thing is that my heart is breaking for others who don't have the support systems in place to help them through. Or the people around the world who get by on just a few morsels of food a week. It brings me to certain tears thinking of that.
So as we roll into Christmas, it is my prayer that I will stay mindful of "God with us". And that is my prayer for you as well. That you will experience the fullness of "God with us" and that your Christmas season will be blessed and bright. Not because of some big glamorous gift or some unexpected endowment, but because God loves you so. I pray that you will know that love so much more this year than you ever have before-and that it stays with you, on into 2010 and beyond. Because God truly is with us, now, and forever.