“Long lay the world in sin and error pining when he appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices…”
I squinted down the dark driveway, wondering what I was seeing. The form materialized more in motion than in shape. The loping pace tickled something familiar in my mind. I wondered who could be walking up our driveway unannounced so late at night. Suddenly, with a brilliant flash, my mind decoded the mystery: my beloved firstborn was home. In the flesh. The beginning of his first semester at an out-of-state college had felt eternal.
It was his sister’s birthday, the first family event we expected to not be all together. With his presence, all was once again right with the world. We had our boy home, and we couldn’t believe it! Its unexpectedness made it extra delicious. Throughout the weekend, I found my eyes seeking him out to confirm that he was more than my imagination. His surprise presence changed the way the air felt in a way no mail-order gift or phone call ever could.
Riley’s appearance was the cherry on top of an already good weekend. Christ’s appearance, in the flesh, was so much more than that to a sin-weary world. Hopelessness and longing filled the air, bringing a listless sting with every breath. Heavy with the weight of sin, even the most ardent believers in the coming Messiah were faltering.
Then, the brilliant light of a star told of God come in the flesh. This was more than a message of hope or the formula for a solution. Hope came in the shape of a person who would live with us and understand us. Those who encountered him fell to their knees, the breath knocked from them. He exceeded their wildest hopes.
Just like Jesus, our skin-on presence is needed in this world. He wants us to be the flavor of him, coming with more than words and gifts, but with skin. The people in your life have needs only presence can answer. Phone calls help, gifts delight, but nothing relieves quite like your actual presence. You–leaning in. You–feeling life, smelling it with them. You–looking into their eyes and holding their hand. We must lean toward the needs of others with our whole selves if we want to be bringers of hope the way Jesus was. He did it first, and the world fell to its knees in relief.
I couldn’t believe Riley made it home that weekend. The world couldn’t believe God would lower himself to come to us in the flesh. Who needs the hopeful shock of your presence in their life today? It might take their breath away and point them to Jesus.
Dear Father, it changed everything for me when you became a man. You brought hope, gift-wrapped in skin, to dispel the darkness of sin. Instead of merely sending a solution, you delivered it in person. The thought brings me to my knees. Thank you so much for coming. My greatest desire is to mimic you in offering hope to people living in darkness around me. I want my presence to bring hope and care to your precious people. Please make me brave enough to lean in so I look more like you. Amen.
Scriptures for Reflection
“From the very first day we were there, taking it all in – we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we say it happened! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us. We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy.” (I John 1:1-4 MSG)
“She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.” (Proverbs 31:20 MSG)
“Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: When every you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40 MSG)
Call to Action
Who is in need of your presence this week? Carve out an hour or two for someone who needs you–a family member, a friend, a colleague, a neighbor. Be fully present with that person. Afterward, reflect on the time you spent together and what God might be speaking to your heart about making the gift of your presence a priority. Share your impressions with us on social media using the hashtag #tgtreachformore. We would love to hear from you!
Lori Florida’s life is all about her people. She’s convinced that being Mrs. to one and Mommy to eight will be her most significant way to serve Jesus. She wants to use her life to cheer on and coach the women coming behind her. Lori blogs at loriflorida.com.
Photograph © Kelly Sikkema, used with permission