When the angel appeared to the shepherds, they certainly had no fore-warning. They were quietly watching over their flocks when the glory of the Lord appeared. The angel calmed their fears by bringing them good news—the Savior Messiah had just been born in Bethlehem! They would recognize him by a sign: he would be wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. This unexpected visitor from heaven gave them unexpected news confirmed by an unexpected sign. Immanuel had come in the lowliest of states to be with all mankind. The sign would assure them this baby was indeed God in flesh.
I believe God still gives us signs. Signs that may appear in unexpected ways, but bring certainty Immanuel is with us.
The call last week came most unexpectedly. My husband’s youngest brother, Danny, was being rushed to the emergency room. Danny’s Down’s syndrome, dementia, and decreasing physical functioning all seemed to be crashing in. Unresponsive, the nurse speculated he had had a stroke. Now, Chip’s sister was trying to reach the other four siblings. No small task…
One sister lives about 45 minutes away but she just “happened” to be in town at a theater 10 minutes away from the hospital. The oldest brother also “happened” to be at the same show. Getting in touch with the middle brother is sometimes next to impossible unless he’s at work. That night he “happened” to be working late and when the phone rang at the office, he picked it up. Within the hour, we were all gathered at the hospital. We were together, surrounding his hospital bed, when Danny took his last breath.
The fact that within such a short span of time in the middle of a busy holiday season we were all there was not lost on any of us. It was nothing short of a miracle. God graced us with a sign that even though he was taking Danny, He was in control. He was with us…Immanuel….
We probably miss God’s signs more often than not. We get busy. We rely on our natural instincts. But when we recognize the signs, peace replaces fear.
So don’t miss those hints of God’s presence in your life. Remember this Christmas season and always: Immanuel has come.