"He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth." Isaiah 11: 3-4
My hands lifted dishes, scraping crumbs into the trash, wrapping up potatoes for another meal on another day. Boys practiced Christmas songs on the piano or played somewhere in the back of the house. Somewhere in her room, my daughter was lost in her intricate imaginary world.
Morgan asked me to come outside with him. He wanted to show me something. I followed as he walked up to the mailbox.
"What are we doing out here?" I asked.
"I want to show you something," he said, the lightness of his voice sparkled with a happy surprise.
Then I saw it. At the end of the street. Christmas lights. The first of the season in our neighborhood.
Unexpectedly and suddenly, I began to cry. "Oh...I need Christmas this year," I whispered out the truth to my husband, to God, to the beautiful night.
My feet step expectantly on the path of Christmas this year, aware of my deep need.
Why do we think this is a sin, to be full of need? Why does our culture make neediness seem small, desperate, and shameful?
We look with our eyes at our homes, friends, and provision. We think how our many blessings that we do not deserve ought to satisfy us. We listen with our ears to the sounds of freedom, the song of thanks we sing, and the beautiful words of loved ones. We accuse our neediness because surely all of this first-world abundance this ought to pacify our hearts.
But then we ache with the unshakable feeling that we are poor and needy somewhere below the surface. Because deep down we know we are naked before a holy God.
Isn't that what Adam and Eve learned when they fell from grace? They realized they were naked and so they hid from God.
But our God doesn't look at what He can see with His eyes, or decide by what He can hear with His ears. He looks deeper, at our needy hearts, and meets our greatest need. Our desperate lack of righteousness prompts our salvation from His judgement.
Only in our poverty, in our great lack of goodness apart from Him, are we found deserving of His provision for us.
To truly know God we must face Him poor and needy.
My eyes are set upon an empty manger this week. God's building me my very own manger in my heart. Because He loves me. Because He came for me. Because I need Him alone.
At first my manger is empty because it awaits a Savior, born fully God and fully man, destined to take away the sins of the world. But then it is empty because the baby grows up to hang on a cross and rise from the dead to give us all the gift of eternal life.
Someday He will return and end our neediness forever. But until that day, I need Him every hour of every day.
Happy Christmas, dear friends. May you find an empty-manger-kind-of-Christmas of your own, ready for a happy, delightful, bursting-at-the-seams-with-love kind of God.