As a child, I attended a large, traditional church with cathedral-style, stained-glass windows. There was also a fresco of Jesus and a herd of sheep. I don’t remember much about the sheep – just that they were there – but I do remember that in Jesus’ arms were two or three little lambs looking up at him. He was looking back at them with a grave, tender expression on his face.
We sat in the same place every week in order to be close to the side door, where Grandma could slip out unobserved if she had a coughing fit. It made her feel more secure to sit there, and I got a lot of face time with this fresco while half-listening to a grown-up talk about things I did not understand.
While still very young, I remember gesturing toward the fresco and asking my mother, “Who’s that?”
“That’s God,” she replied, as if I were asking about someone in Bradner’s Department Store. There was no question – just a matter-of-fact, positive ID. So I filed this away in my subconscious: God is a person and he sure takes care of those lambs.
As for me, I had this information, but acting on that information is quite another thing. Time passed and I happily took my eyes off of him. He patiently and faithfully pursued me for decades, through awful choices resulting in pain. He did not give up. He did not even prevent me from making those life choices. In fact, He used them as if to say, as effectively as if He were standing next to me, “Have you had enough of your way yet?”
Eventually and gradually, my flight from Him turned from an energetic run into slow, exhausted steps, until I turned around and, by faith, fell gratefully into His strong arms – just like those little lambs on the fresco.
It is an unspeakable comfort and joy to know that over 2000 years ago, Jesus, Lamb of God, came to this earth as a helpless baby, grew up to be the Good Shepherd and Savior of his flock, died a death that was justly mine. He saved me, He saves me and He will save me.
On what are you relying this day for your salvation? A husband, boyfriend, child, best friend, career, home, good works, yourself? What a relief to know that we don’t have to put that kind of pressure on ourselves or anyone else! This is the season we celebrate the coming of the One who loved us enough to come meet us where we are – on this earth in all our messy humanity – and truly save us.
“Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Risen with healing in His wings.
Mild He lay His glory by.
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.
Hark! The herald angel sings, Glory to the new-born King!”
Special thanks to Susan B. of "Handmade to Praise His Name" for sharing her artwork with Celebrating Christmas.