(By Rachel Joyce)
“‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us)” (Mat 1:23).
Although Christmas is over, the truths we have celebrated will stay with us. The little babe born in Bethlehem, our Savior, chose to dwell on earth with us so that we could one day dwell in heaven with Him. The Son of God became a man so we could become children of God. Such incomprehensible grace! He chose to be Immanuel, God with us, because He wanted us to be with Him forever. Any earthly rejection we have faced, any indifference or hurt pales into nothingness in the face of such acceptance and love. God Himself wants us! He wants to be with us. He wants us to experience His presence and enjoy His glory. He told us so. Just prior to His betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion, our Lord prayed:
Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You…I do not ask for these only [the disciples], but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world…I made known to them Your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them. John 17:1, 20-24, 26
Facing the cross, the complete rejection of men and the wrath of Almighty God against our sins, Jesus thought of us and prayed for each of us who would come to believe in Him. His prayer rises like a mighty, glorious crescendo, crashing through our carefully constructed facades of independence and self reliance. “I in them and You in Me.” He lives within us! Listen to the beating of His heart. He wants us close to Him. He longs for us to see His glory. He’s continually working in us, revealing who God is, so that as we grow to know Him more, we will experience His love, the love which the Father had for the Son. His love in us, His presence in us, what more could we possibly ask for?
No matter what this upcoming year may hold, we have all we need because we have Him. His presence will be with us and He will be our refuge no matter what storms may rise. He will comfort us with His love and delight our hearts with His glory. He knows the road ahead and will guide us step by step until we finally tread on celestial ground. He whispers, “I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you’” (Isaiah 41:13). We have His hand in ours and His love in our hearts. We can step out into 2019 with confidence in our Immanuel.