By Jim Sim on December 22nd, 2017
…..no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head.”
If you know the carol ” away in a manger then you know these words and they conjure up thoughts of a happy Christmas card scene of tranquility and feelings of gentleness and smiling sheep and cows gathered around a trough with Jesus inside it smiling.
Christmas gets me thinking of the many of the different themes, pictures, and myths that the Christmas season bring up and the manger has really caught my eye.
Many of our images of Christmas are way off from the actual cultural and historical backdrop of Jesus birth (too many to go into in this blog) and some of those errors do us no harm, some however have deep significance and cause us to overlook the real message about what God is like, what he expects from us and what can expect from him.
You may expect, as I often have, that life with God as my Father should be a bed of roses, or at least a march to victory where trouble, pain, awkwardness, challenge, disruption, discomfort and toil are behind me.
Jesus at the outset of his human experience had a bed of hay (allergies anyone?) inside what was basically a barn. My first paid job was shovelling in a barn, it paid me money but it was nasty! Jesus was born into this and entrusted to a simple poor family where his stepdad was a jack of all trades-type worker.
Back to the manger; it is not a bed that you would expect for a child never mind the son of God.
Its not the correct environment
or appropriate place for the nurturing and safe healthy protection and growth of a baby, far be it for the son of God. No hypoallergenic pillows here! Just what was God thinking?
And yet in contradiction of what I just said it is exactly the right place.
Jesus was being trained and shaped by his Father in that family, in that barn, in that manger. This was his place of total trust and dependence on the Father, from whom comes every good and perfect gift.
His safety was not by being in the hands of Mary, or the oversight of Joseph, or a comfortable bed, but in the hands of the Father. The partners or vessels or the manger that God uses are only tools that he uses to craft our total dependence on Him, whereby we are 100% safe, secure, protected, comforted, and matured.
That manger is where Jesus proved his trust that God the Father knows where and with whom to place me, and the surroundings of my life are His to govern and use for my life to flourish, even its not – wait for it –
the perfect set of circumstances.
The manger seems inappropriate yet is totally appropriate for faith to be tested and proven. Further more, my connection with my Father and my proving of him and his ability to care for me become real and true in my spirit.
” you are all I need Father”
Or is it that you have to escape the manger because you can prove God must have a better way?
What is the hay that you are couched in that itches and scratches at you and stinks and provokes your allergies?
What is the smell that surrounds you that you just find obnoxious and not at all where you belong?
Are you asking God to lift you out of the manger that he is using to shape your relationship with him as a father to a child?
It would be better to ask Jesus to help you and show you how to rest in that manger and trust the hand of your Father to train you and lead you, just as Jesus did. His training started in the manger let Him show you how its done!
Stop trying to leap out looking for a better more suitable fit, rest in that ugly, itchy, sneezy, smelly, PERFECT manger made for you. Where God is with you!