"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Unexpected Path, Unexpecting Town

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie...

They missed His coming.

The whole town of Bethlehem missed His coming. They weren't waiting for Him. Those that were waiting thought His coming would look so very different than it did. They slept through the whole thing! God does this. He uses unexpected paths and ways that surprise. He uses odd or different means to accomplish His end.

Reading in Psalm 77, I am struck by these different means. "Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the waters---a pathway no one knew was there!" (v. 19 NLT). His roads, His ways, His direction ...was through the water. The Hebrew words in this verse speak of an inconceivable and unknown way. Steps that are unknown. His footsteps were not perceivable. His steps were unknown. His path was unexpected and not knowable. He led them through the water, for crying out loud!!! Through water... Certainly this was a pathway that no one knew was there! He used this unexpected path.

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given...

He came to earth as a baby. Silently, He slipped in. An unexpected path. ...footsteps unknown. A way they could not see. Quietly He made His entrance.... announcing His arrival to only a few shepherds. His arrival was discerned and perceived by only a few. He came to His own, but they knew him not. They did not recognize Him. They did not perceive, expect or detect His coming. They missed Him.

O come to us, abide in us, Our Lord Emmanuel!

The deeply sad thing is that while the people of Bethlehem missed His coming, they suffered greatly because of it. Herod killed their children because of Christ's coming. Actually, Herod killed their little ones because of a star (another unexpected path!)---and the testimony of a few foreigners. Herod's soldiers killed their baby boys in His desperate effort to stamp out the coming of this King.

The families in Bethlehem lost their baby boys and yet missed the opportunity to worship the Messiah that would rescue them from this hateful, sinful, and messed up world. They missed the abiding blessings of seeing the Chosen One that may have helped, even if just a little, to handle the grief and loss that came upon this silent, sleepy town. They missed the abiding of Emmanuel... the hope it may have brought their distraught and grieving hearts.

God uses unexpected paths and hard-to-understand ways. May we not miss Him! May I not miss Him and take the opportunity to worship this Messiah. May I not miss the blessing of bowing down to a King that will rescue me from this sinful, wretched world! May I not miss God's unexpected ways. May I follow Him through the waters, through His odd and strange paths... like a sheep following a good, kind Shepherd. (Ps. 77:20)

No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still
The dear Christ enters in.

Oh Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend on us we pray!

Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today!

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