I saw him in the drugstore. He was a big, awkward-looking guy with work-worn hands. And he was at the card rack fumbling through the section marked BIRTHDAY – WIFE. I watched him as he picked one or two cards and read them and put them back. And I could tell by the look on his face he wasn’t finding what he had in mind at all.
He read another card and put it back; picked another one, and finally he chose one of those corny-looking cards with flowers on the front. It probably said, “Roses are red, violets are blue…” or something like that, and I could tell that he still wasn’t happy with what he found.
Finally, he sighed and took the card to the checkout counter. He paid the lady; she put it in a brown paper sack, and he walked out the door. I suppose he took it home and scrawled something simple on the bottom of it like, “Love, Pete,” and he gave it to her. But it didn’t say what he wanted it to say, because it just isn’t easy to say the things that really matter. It isn’t easy to say, “I really love you.” Sometimes it’s hard to say, “I’m sorry I was wrong.” Sometimes it’s hard to say, “I acted like a fool yesterday – please forgive me.” Sometimes it just isn’t easy to say, “You’re the glue that holds my whole world together, and I think sometimes if it weren’t for you, I’d just fall apart.”
But, you know, I think she knew. I think by the way he put an awkward arm around her shoulder or kind of punched her on the elbow, she probably knew. And I think he knew that she’d know, because there’s something about living with someone for a long time and having them right where you can kind of look them in the eye – those things that are so hard to say don’t have to be said. Love says it.
I think God tried all down through history to tell us what He wanted us to know. He sent prophets and His teachers, and they tried. And we got part of it. We got the part about God’s justice, and His law. We got the part about when we do bad things, we somehow have to pay, but the part that God really wanted us to know – the part that says, “I really love you!” –we weren’t getting that. God seemed far away.
But before time began, God had a plan. He said, “I know what I’ll do. I’ll send My love right down there where they are, where they can see it and touch it and know it, and I’ll send it as a little tiny, vulnerable baby so they’ll have to touch it, and they’ll have to hold it close. God’s love—right where we are.
My Bible says, The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 KJV).
The story of Christmas has been told in a lot of ways. Prophets predicted that one day a deliverer, the offspring of King David, would come. But how like God, to send an ordinary baby. How like God, to choose to limit Himself to a body like ours, and one of our languages, and our time and space. How like God, when we were so broken and guilty, to choose to walk with us and touch us and make us whole.
And, how like God to reach beyond our questions and doubts, right past the exercises of our minds, on past our suspicions and cynicisms – all the way to where we are.