We’re leaving in about 7 hours to head south for Christmas. I’ve been spending the evening up to now making sure clothes were washed and dishes were put away and the table clear of wrapping and tissue paper (to keep our cat Lucy from being tempted to play and shred too much in our absence)…packing a bag of snacks to carry since NOTHING is open on Christmas Day but gas stations (if we’re lucky)…double-checking that all presents are accounted for and wrapped, getting the coffee maker loaded and ready to spill out liquid energy when we wake. “Busy, busy, busy” (said in the voice of Professor Hinkle in the animated Frosty the Snowman.)
Holiday time is highway time. Ever since Joseph and Mary packed their bags for Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus has caused people to hit the road. Interestingly, the Christmas trips we take have a lot in common with the maiden voyage of Jesus’ folks. We don’t see shepherds in the middle of the night, but we have been known to bump into an in-law on the way to the bathroom. We don’t sleep in stables, but a living room full of sleeping-bagged cousins might smell like one. And we don’t ride donkeys, but 6 hours in a minivan with four kids might make some moms wish they had one.
“Tis the season to be traveling.” Nothing reveals the true character of family members like a long road trip. Dads have a need for speed, traveling far and fast, stopping for nothing but gasoline and a Slim Jim. Moms know the exact reason dads want to be the ones driving: the civil war in the backseat. And kids become wolfmen: fangs, growls, claws all come out. Common courtesies disappear into the same black hole as dropped French fries. Siblings are totally incapable of normal human conversation.
Christmas traveling isn’t for the faint of heart. It isn’t easy. So why do we do it? Why stuff the trunks and endure the airports? You know the answer: We love to be with the ones we love.
So does God. He loves to be with the ones he loves. How else do you explain what he did? Between Him and us, there was a distance—a great span. And he couldn’t bear it. He couldn’t stand it. So He did something about it.
“Christ…gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant.” (Philippians 2:6-7)
The God of the universe kicked against the wall of a womb, was born into the poverty of a peasant, and spent his first night in the feed trough of a cow. “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). The God of the universe left the glory of heaven and moved into the neighborhood. Our neighborhood! Who could have imagined He would do such a thing? What a world He left! He became like us. Just look at the places He was willing to go: feed troughs, carpentry shops, badlands, and cemeteries. The places He went to reach us show how far He will go to touch us. To be with us. He loves to be with the ones He loves. Just like us.
So if you are traveling today…whether its 25 minutes or 9 hours…through rain or snow or sleet or hail or wind, to get to the ones you love, remember what Christ did over 2000 years ago to be with you. He did it because He loves you. He loves me. And He gave up everything to get to us. Thank Him. Today and every day.