by Philip Yancey
"I learned about incarnation when I kept a salt-water aquarium. Management of a marine aquarium, I discovered, is no easy task. I had to run a portable chemical laboratory to monitor the nitrate levels and the ammonia content. I pumped in vitamins and antibiotics and sulfa drugs and enough enzymes to make a rock grow. I filtered the water through glass fibers and charcoal, and exposed it to ultraviolet light. You would think, in view of all the energy expended on their behalf, that my fish would at least be grateful. Not so. Every time my shadow loomed above the tank they dove for cover into the nearest shell. They showed me one "emotion" only: fear. Although I opened the lid and dropped in food on a regular schedule, three times a day, they responded to each visit as a sure sign of my designs to torture them. I could not convince them of my true concern.
To my fish I was deity. I was too large for them, my actions too incomprehensible. My acts of mercy they saw as cruelty; my attempts at healing they viewed as destruction. To change their perceptions, I began to see, would require a form of incarnation. I would have to become a fish and "speak" to them in a language they could understand.
A human being becoming a fish is nothing compared to God becoming a baby. And yet according to the Gospels that is what happened in Bethlehem. The God who created matter took shape within it, as an artist might become a spot on a painting or a playright a character within his own play. God wrote a story, only using real characters, on the pages or real history. The Word become flesh."
For way too long I was just like the fish in the tank. No matter what God did...no matter how He blessed me or took care of me...I was afraid of Him. And whenever I heard Him call me. Whenever I felt His nearness...I would run. I would try to hide. I would try to pretend He wasn't there.
How sad it makes me to think of the way that must have hurt Him. For Him to have sent His Son for me. To have loved me with an ever-lasting love. All the blessings. All the care. I misunderstood it all. I was afraid of Him.
Yet, when I had no where else to run, I ran to Him. And His grace took all my fears away.
In my head, I had always believed in the Trinity. I knew the verses that spoke of Jesus being God in the flesh. But, I didn't know it in my heart. The fear blinded me to the truth that Jesus is the exact image of God. God shows all of Himself, all of His glory, all in His Son.
Jesus. The One that loved His mother and His friends. The One that loved to spend time with the misfits and the outcasts. The One that went out of His way to talk to a scorned woman at a well. The One that gave sight to the blind and told the crippled to get up and walk. The One that cried as his friends experienced grief. The One that told stories to His followers so they could understand things too great for human minds. The One that spoke with the authority of the King of the Universe and said not to fear Him in the same breath. The One that was never surprised by anyone's sin and never rejected anyone because of it. The One that was more concerned about His disciple that denied Him than the pain He was going to face. The One that watched His creation ridicule Him, torture Him, and reject Him. And, then He asked the Father to have compassion and mercy on them. I could go on and on.
This is God. The God I feared.
Yes. God sent His Son for our redemption. For our reconciliation. To give us eternal life with Him.
But, He also sent Jesus so we could see Him. So, we would know exactly what He was like. So we would stop running. So we would stop being afraid. So we would stop thinking of Him as our tormentor. So... we would know the love He has for us.
So He left heaven and stepped into a world that He knew all too well. He knew all the ugliness, the vileness and all the awful things that men and women do to each other. He came knowing what to expect. And, we didn't let Him down, did we? The human race showed Him all the pain, humiliation, and rejection it could muster up. He knew we would. And He came anyway.
I'm thankful that I live on this side of Christmas. That I live at a time in history where I don't have to guess what God is like.
My heart has much regret for wasting so many opportunities to spend time with Jesus. Time wasted on things that didn't matter. But, my heart is also filled with excitement that His mercies are new every morning, and that He is always near for those that call.
Billy Graham's daughter wrote a book called, Just Give Me Jesus. And, that is exactly the gift I want this Christmas morning. Jesus.
I really do just want Jesus.
"And the Word became 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."
full of grace and truth."
picture from salt-water aquarium guide.com