God in Each Moment

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  • **As we continue in this season of Advent, we would like to share this second devotional in our Christmas series.

    The coming of the Savior of the world was not announced with ticker tape and balloons. There was the blazing splendor of the Lord and the sudden appearance of a vast host of the armies of heaven with their stunning piece of news—but how many saw? How many heard? No one, it seems, in the little town of Bethlehem—only a group of humble shepherds out on the dewy hillside. They were not thrilled or excited by the heavenly display. They were terror-stricken.

    Bethlehem was crowded that night. There was the hustle and bustle of travelers looking for lodging. In the inns, noise, frustration, drunkenness, argument. Hidden from all, in back of one of the inns, knelt a young woman in the agony of giving birth.

    The Virgin Mary and her husband, Joseph, had welcomed with open arms, nine months before, what without faith they would have dreaded and avoided. Each day had brought its further testings. Imagine their receiving news, when her time was near, that a trek to far-off Bethlehem was demanded by law at such a time! Fancy Joseph finding no room for her now that she was in labor. Few comforts were theirs that night, but faith sustained them. There was nowhere to lean except the Everlasting Arms. They had God’s word, specially delivered by the angel Gabriel. Weak things, lowly things, painful things, silent things—the instinct of their faith told them God was in all of these. They knew, because God had given them His word. Therefore they moved trustfully, quietly, through each moment, God being in charge, God being in that moment.

    And so it may be for us when God’s order is the reverse of what we expect. He is in each moment, in us, with us, as He is with the holy couple on their wearisome journey over the dusty roads and in the raw cattle shed. Should we expect to see how things are working together for our good? No, not yet. We see not yet. We only know. Joseph and Mary, lacking faith, would surely have felt that things were working strongly against them.

    Ah! The poverty, the humility of God reduced to lying on straw in a manger, crying and trembling and breaking Mary’s noble heart. Ask the inhabitants of Bethlehem what they think; if that child had been born in a palace in princely surroundings they would worship him. But ask Mary, Joseph, the magi, the priest, and they will tell you that they see in this dire poverty something which makes God more glorious, more adorable. What is deprivation to the senses nourishes and strengthens faith. The less there is for the senses, the more there is for the soul.                                    

     Jean-Pierre de Caussade

    In the barren places of my life I can be assured that God is there as He is when life is fruitful, and that the time is coming (give me patience, Lord, to wait!) when He will fulfill His word: “I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this” (Isa. 41:19-20).

    Like little children on Christmas Eve, we know that lovely surprises are in the making. We can’t see them. We have simply been told, and we believe. Tomorrow we shall see.

    Almighty God, Who canst give the light that in darkness shall make us glad, the life that in gloom shall make us joy, and the peace that amidst discord shall bring us quietness! Let us live this day in that light, that life, and that peace, so that we may gain the victory over those things that press us down, and over the flesh that so often encumbers us, and over death that seemeth for a moment to win the victory. Thus we, being filled with inward peace, and light, and life, may walk all the days of this our mortal life, doing our work as the business of our Father, glorifying it because it is Thy will, knowing that what Thou givest Thou givest in love. Bestow upon us the greatest and last blessing, that we, being in Thy presence, may be life unto Thee for evermore. These things we do ask, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.                                                                      

    George Dawson, 1821-1876

    **Excerpt originally published in Secure in the Everlasting Arms, pg. 151-153.