“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
We’ve got cold and snow here in Chicago today. The weather is frightful. Winter has arrived with a blast. The beautiful snow falling the last few days has me reflecting on my mom.
My mom passed away in 2010 from a long battle with a degenerative brain disease. Christmas leaves me longing for her. I feel a void some days without her. She loved winter and loved to play in the snow. I don’t know if her favorite winter past time was downhill sledding or snowshoeing. She loved both so deeply and when she was out in the elements, her joy was contagious. Since her death, Christmas hasn’t been quite the same. I long for the family moments together and the laughter that we had as we played in the snow. I still long for her to be here with us on earth. However, I am extremely grateful that she knew Jesus and that she is in heaven in a renewed body, no longer suffering, but rejoicing to be with our Savior in heaven.
For many of you, Christmas may also be difficult because you have lost someone who’s near and dear. Or maybe you are estranged from a family member, have recently divorced, or have someone serving in the military overseas. You can understand that void. You feel the loss, the emptiness and the sorrow. If you’re like me you can go days without thinking of who you’re missing and then something out of the blue will trigger a memory and the longing begins again.
So, this got me thinking of one of the names by which Jesus is called. Immanuel. God with us. Always present in this world, actively at work around us. Engaging with the world whether we notice or not. He is with us in our moments of weakness and in our moments of despair. Calling out to us, holding out his hand for us to grab on to. Calling us to walk with him. Whether you realize it or not he is already walking beside you. Because he is with us, he is our constant companion. He is at a constant state of readiness. Ready to comfort, to protect, to guide and to love us.
So if God is with me, why do I at times feel disconnected from him? That is my own doing. There are days when I feel a lack of connectedness, a separation if you will, from God. My sin tends to get in the way. My sins of self absorption, my to do lists, or simply my lack of prayer. I try to go it alone often falsely thinking my way is better. That is when the separation begins, the drift, slowly creating a wedge between me and the hand of God. Not the design he desires. He didn’t go anywhere, I did.
God with us. Jesus sent to save, to be with us each and every moment of the day, to show us a better way to live. To save us from the sin which separates us from God. Have you been redeemed? Have you drifted away, even if only subtly? Will you reach out and grab the hand of God today? Simply put, A life that is walked with God, following his lead, is a life richly blessed because our focus is on the One who came to redeem, reunite, and restore.