By Pastor Scott Godinez
A mixture of brokenness, confusion, and fear flooded my veins like a dam bursting. Everything that was once held back firmly, now came rushing out washing away everything in its path. A dim lamp lit the wall in my living room, just enough light to see the tear-soaked rug beneath me. Tomorrow’s boarding pass lay on the coffee table just before me, my marinara-stained tie and apron were crumpled in a pile behind me. But who was this boy caught in the middle?
For the first time in my life, my past seemed as filthy as the rubber soles on my shoes, and as stained as the fake silk tie Olive Garden required all of their employees to wear. I glanced at the empty room.
Nobody was home for Christmas.
My mother had already left for D.C., I would soon catch my flight and arrive early tomorrow, Christmas Eve.
The hour stood still. A glacial moment powerfully carving out my soul yet never moving more than just an inch at a time. I had to break free. I reached for my phone, maybe some text, some distraction could divide me from this injury upon my being. I searched my phone for any notifications. Nothing.
He would have me feel this. He wants something from my pain.
Crranggg! Crannng! The sound of an old garage-sale-clock striking midnight disrupted my thoughts and called me back to the emptiest room of my life. I had spent many Christmases here and none had ever been like this one. Years and years of birthday candles were blown out in this room, each one a wish filled with gasps of hope that now seemed in vain.
19 years in this house and he waited until now!?
The weight of each passing minute made it clear to me now, this was not just any moment, this was a uniquely designed occasion. Many years from now in seminary I would learn a word for it, Kairos, it’s Greek, for an appointed time, a divine occasion.
All I knew then was the only thing I had ever trusted for everything in my life had failed me. The wasted years worshipping, pleading, exhausting everything in me to focus all of my energy on a single belief had betrayed me. If life itself could give you a pink slip, this must be what it felt like.
Again I wept.
Is there any hope left for someone like me?
And then I prayed.
All I knew then was the only thing I had ever trusted for everything in my life had failed me.
Christmas tends to be surrounded in festive lights, parties, presents and joyous celebration—with good reason! We have a “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Is. 9:6) to celebrate! But have you ever considered the deeper meaning of why Jesus had to come?
When I was 19 years old I prayed for the first time to follow Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I had just finished my first semester in college and endured some of the most painful realizations of my adolescence. Primarily, the lesson that cut the deepest was the truth of my own failure. My own inability to do anything of real merit or virtue. My every action was laced with self-centered intentions and even worse, I was a slave to my insecurities. Gone were the naive dreams I had of becoming a self-made man of righteous character and conviction. The pointlessness of my own life filled my eyes with watery tears that I could not hide behind a charming smile or sharp wit.
What I did not realize is that God was calling me to him. His Holy Spirit was breaking down every defense I had put up. Tearing down the platitudes that would never endure the plans he had for me. It would be painful. It would be purposeful. It would be a waterfall of his love crashing through all of my fragile plans.
It would be painful. It would be purposeful. It would be a waterfall of his love crashing through all of my fragile plans.
I had spent nearly two decades selling off pieces of my heart for the applause of the world. Nothing short of a miracle would be able to win my soul back to him. Indeed, God would have to commit the life of his perfect son to ransom my imperfect, orphaned heart (1 Tim. 2:6).
You see, Christmas is such a wonderful time because for many, we celebrate the blessed moment in Bethlehem when “to us a child is born, to us a son is given [emphasis added]” (Is. 9:6)
Given! Presents, and gifts are given! What better present than for God to gift his Son, Jesus to us!
But why? Why would God himself need to join his creation? Why would God himself need to save us from our sins? (Mt. 1:21). Could he not have started with something, less drastic?
The son of God was required because he was the only payment worthy of the depth of our hopelessness, the depth of our sin. It would require the sacrifice a divinely perfect human, to reconcile us to God. The very act of Jesus coming to earth is an indictment upon all of us, illuminating our desperate position.
The very act of Jesus coming to earth is an indictment upon all of us, illuminating our desperate position.
Imagine Christmas morning you open present after present to find dieting books from everyone. You get the message: everyone thinks you need to go on a diet! The gift of Jesus’ birth is a message to each of us that we are fattened with sin and impoverished spiritually, we are destined for hell without him! Before God none of us stands righteous, none of us stands on anything worthy of justifying ourselves in the presence of his majesty!
The gift of Jesus’ birth is God making it clear to every person on this planet: YOU CANNOT DO THIS ALONE!
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
The new light has dawned! Like the sunrise dawning, this light has come from someplace other than us—the light is Jesus! This is the great hope for the hopeless! God the son, Jesus, would become our savior!
Your pain, your hurt, your exhaustion, your fear, your worries, your uncertain future, your insecurities, your wounded heart, your hopelessness, your everything can be laid before the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. You will never be alone again, you will never need to fight on your own again.
You can be released from every chain weighing you down. There is power in the name of JESUS! He alone is “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn. 1:29).
My dear friend, take heart this Christmas season. The days are filled with worry, stress and far too many people trying to press on alone. Do they not know that Jesus came for this purpose? Has no one told them? Have they not heard the good news that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved?” (Acts 4:12).
With all the jubilee of this season, do not ignore the truth that our neighbors are in desperate places. Broken places. Lost places.
Before we concern ourselves with keeping Christ in Christmas, let’s first keep Christ in Christians, and GO! Go to your neighbor, go to your friend, go to your family and share with them everything that Jesus means to you. He is hope incarnate, grace unleashed, and mercy overflowing, his love knows no end. May every person you speak with be led to the feet of Jesus as you introduce him into each conversation.
Before we concern ourselves with keeping Christ in Christmas, let’s first keep Christ in Christians, and GO!
God is calling us to love the people in our lives and near to our lives. Anyone without the hope that comes from a relationship with Jesus is certainly facing The Most Hopeless Season of All.
Jesus saved me on the night of my 19th birthday, on December 23rd, 2008. It was a most hopeless season for me and had been for many years.
But God, revealed his love to me and brought me to my lowest point in order that he might call me to rise in his grace alone.
Friends remember with me, when did you first came to know our Heavenly Father?
What has he saved you from?
What has he saved you for?
What has he called you toward?