“Natalie, have you done your devotions today?”
“Oh, no, mom, I am on it right now.”
So I watch my daughter reading God’s Word. I usually have her use a study guide to follow along with. I think they are good tools to teach children how to apply Scripture to their lives. But this morning, she was just reading the Bible and nothing else. I was skeptical.
“Mom! I read two whole chapters this morning!”
“That’s great, what did you read about?”
She tells me about how an angel told Joseph to take Mary and Jesus into Egypt to escape Herod’s slaughter. And then, at the right time, the safe time, God tells Joseph to go back home. Good, she understands what she read…. but then I asked,
“So what can you learn from what you read?”
“Uh…. To serve God and not kings?”
I had nothing specific in mind for her to say, but I knew that this was her generic answer when she didn’t know… kind of like the child who answers every question in Sunday School with “Jesus”. So I helped her out, not knowing where it would lead.
“What would have happened if Joseph did not do what God had said?”
Her answer amazed me.
“Then Jesus would have been killed as a baby and we would all still be sinners.” She had a look of despair on her face as she said the words.
The conversation went on from there, with more wonderful insight, but the answer Natalie gave me to my original question still weighs heavy on me, as it should.
I had just been reading from a Christmas book that very morning that said this:
“The whole of Christ’s life was a continual passion; others dies martyrs, but Christ was born a martyr. He found a Golgotha, where He was crucified, even in Bethlehem, where He was born; for to His tenderness then the straws were almost as sharp as the thorns after, and the manger as uneasy at first as the cross at last. His birth and His death were but one continual act, and His Christmas Day and His Good Friday are but the evening and morning of one and the same day. From the creche to the cross is an inseparable line. Christmas only points forward to Good Friday and Easter. It can have no meaning apart from that, where the Son of God displayed His glory by His death.”*
God’s plan for our salvation was perfect, from beginning to end. And I will always be reminded of my daughter’s answer, and the look on her face. Our hope is found in Christ, and this season is not only a celebration of His birth, but the birth of the Hope for the whole world. Without His timely sacrifice, we would still be lost and in despair.
*Excerpt from John Donne’s sermon “Christmas Day, 1626.”