The Awaited One

The following is excerpted from Max Lucado’s An Angel’s Story*, and was the 12/23/07 e-mail from MaxLucado.com, which anyone can sign up to receive. Max and his crew are encouraging subscribers to share this and the other excerpts with their friends, so here I am, sharing it with my readers.*
We were a wreath of Light around the stable, a necklace of diamonds around the structure. Every angel had been called from his post for the coming, even Michael. None doubted God would, but none knew how He could, fulfill His promise.
“I’ve heated the water!”
“No need to yell, Joseph, I hear you fine.”
Mary would have heard had Joseph whispered. The stable was even smaller than Joseph had imagined but the innkeeper was right–it was clean. I started to clear out the sheep and cow, but Michael stopped me. “The Father wants all of creation to witness the moment.”
Mary cried out and gripped Joseph’s arm with one hand and a feed trough with the other. The thrust in her abdomen lifted her back, and she leaned forward.
“Is it time?” Joseph asked.
She shot back a glance, and he had his answer.
Within moments the Awaited One was born. I was privileged to have a position close to the couple, only a step behind Michael. We both gazed into the wrinkled face of the infant. Joseph had placed hay in a feed trough, giving Jesus His first bed.
All of God was in the infant. Light encircled His face and radiated from His tiny hands. The very glory I had witnessed in His throne room now burst through His skin.
I felt we should sing but did not know what. We had no song. We had no verse. We had never seen the sight of God in a baby. When God had made a star, our words had roared. When He had delivered His servants, our tongues had flown with praise. Before His throne, our songs never ended. But what do you sing to God in a feed trough?
In that moment a wonderful thing happened. As we looked at the baby Jesus, the darkness lifted. Not the darkness of the night, but the darkness of the mystery. Heaven’s enlightenment engulfed the legions.
Our minds were filled with the Truth we had never before known. We became aware for the first time of the Father’s plan to rescue those who bear His name.
“Joy to the world! The Lord is come! Let earth receive her King! Let every heart, prepare Him room! Heaven and nature sing!”

links for 2007-12-23

links for 2007-12-22

The Spirit of Christmas

The following landed in ye olde e-mail inbox earlier today, penned by talk radio host Laura Ingraham:
Megan pulled a three-ring binder out of her bag and showed me a photograph of herself and her husband. Young–they’re both 21–with big smiles on their faces and obviously wildly in love. “That’s what he looked like,” she said with a somber face, “He was such a cutie-pie, always buying me little stuffed animals and writing the most thoughtful notes the entire time he was in Iraq.” Then she showed me the photo of her husband receiving the Purple Heart on Wednesday from President Bush at Bethesda Naval Medical Center. As President Bush pinned the medal on Mike, he lay unconscious in the ICU, having suffered a traumatic brain injury caused by a piece of shrapnel that pierced his temple.
“This is my Mike now,” she said, rubbing her eyes. He is completely blind and to alleviate a terrible cranial pressure build-up, doctors had to remove the front of his skull. Since being wounded several months ago, Mike has never regained consciousness and suffers from terrible seizures. “That’s my guy,” she repeated, before she went on to tell me about how they met and fell in love.
For whatever reason, I kept thinking about the fact that some person somewhere carefully assembled the IED that would eventually maim Mike and many others. They are often packed with nails, hunks of lead and screws to cause maxim human suffering. When they explode, the contents rip through flesh and bones, shattering countless dreams in the process.
How to comprehend this level of evil and the physical and emotional agony it causes? This young woman and her husband should be out buying their first Christmas tree together, going to parties, raising a glass to their future. When I asked what she was doing for the holiday she said, “I’ll be here with Mike. I would never want him to be alone on Christmas.” They had been married for about three months when Mike was wounded.
In these days before Christmas, Megan and other military wives and moms gave me a precious gift. They reminded me that true love requires sacrifice–sometimes seemingly unbearable, heart-wrenching sacrifice. They are living out their love in big and small ways. Many have moved thousands of miles to relocate to the hospitals where their husbands, wives, sons, and daughters are being treated. This takes an enormous emotional and financial toll, yet they do it for love. When they are not at the hospital bedsides of their wounded warriors, they sit for hours a day in waiting rooms across the United States, hoping for good news–or at least no more bad news. They pray with each other, cry with each other, and yes, even manage to laugh with each other as they hope for a day when they can return to “normal life.” Yet for the families of our most seriously injured troops, they know they will have to get used to a “new normal,” much different from the life they knew before.
As we are about to celebrate Christmas spending time with our families and friends, let us all do our best to live up to the true spirit of this season–and make it a time filled with love, faith, gratitude, hope, charity, and, yes, let’s try for some peace on earth. Let us remember the military families and our wounded heroes who will spend this Christmas at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center, Bethesda Naval Medical Center and other medical facilities across the nation. As we rush around stressed out because we “haven’t found the perfect gift” for so-and-so, these families hope and pray for gifts that cannot be wrapped up: a hand that squeezes back, a smile, the first step on a new prosthesis, or a positive medical report.
They need our prayers and support at Christmas and every day. Please give what you can to any of the wonderful organizations that support our bravest and their families.
Merry Christmas.

links for 2007-12-21

Immanuel

The following is excerpted from Max Lucado’s An Angel’s Story*, and was the 12/20/07 e-mail from MaxLucado.com, which anyone can sign up to receive. Max and his crew are encouraging subscribers to share this and the other excerpts with their friends, so here I am, sharing it with my readers.*
The King walked over and reached for the book. He turned it toward Lucifer and commanded, “Come, Deceiver, read the name of the One who will call your bluff. Read the name of the One who will storm your gates.”
Satan rose slowly off his haunches. Like a wary wolf, he walked a wide circle toward the desk until he stood before the volume and read the word:
“Immanuel?” he muttered to himself, then spoke in a tone of disbelief. “God with us?” For the first time the hooded head turned squarely toward the face of the Father. “No. Not even You would do that. Not even You would go so far.”
“You’ve never believed me, Satan.”
“But Immanuel? The plan is bizarre! You don’t know what it’s like on Earth! You don’t know how dark I’ve made it. It’s putrid. It’s evil. Its…”
“IT IS MINE,” proclaimed the King. “AND I WILL RECLAIM WHAT IS MINE. I WILL BECOME FLESH. I WILL FEEL WHAT MY CREATURES FEEL. I WILL SEE WHAT THEY SEE.”
“But what of their sin?”
“I will bring mercy.”
“What of their death?”
“I will give life.”
Satan stood speechless.
God spoke, “I love my children. Love does not take away the beloved’s freedom. But love takes away fear. And Immanuel will leave behind a tribe of fearless children. They will not fear you or your hell.”
Satan stepped back at the thought. His retort was childish. “Th-th-they will too!”
“I will take away all sin. I will take away death. Without sin and without death, you have no power.”
Around and around in a circle Satan paced, clenching and unclenching his wiry fingers. When he finally stopped, he asked a question that even I was thinking. “Why? Why would You do this?”
The Father’s voice was deep and soft. “Because I love them.”

links for 2007-12-20