by Nan Corbitt Allen
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23 NIV
One day, my 4-year-old granddaughter pulled me close and whispered, “Nana, I love God.” It truly warmed my heart to hear her say it. And then she added, “Both of ‘em.”
I was a little confused. “What do you mean by ‘both of ‘em’? There’s only one God.”
She answered, “You know, God and Jesus”.
Oh. Well. Yeah.
I quickly ran in my mind ways to explain the Holy Trinity to a 4-year-old but decided to go with, “Well, God and Jesus are kind of the same – only God stays in Heaven and Jesus came down to earth to be like us.” I was sure my answer was brilliant and that she got it – sort of. (Of course, there was the Holy Spirit part that I don’t really understand myself and wouldn’t even try to explain to a child.)
Her sweet comment started me to thinking about that later, however– about Jesus being God Incarnate – Emmanuel – God with Us. That reminded me of a story told by the late, great commentator Paul Harvey. It goes like this:
There was a farmer who discovered a flock of birds desperately trying to escape the winter cold by repeatedly flying into his glass storm door. The compassionate farmer really wanted to let the birds inside to get warm but having been around wild animals in his work, he knew that was not the best plan for these creatures. Not only were the birds cold, but frightened as well, and that fear could have harmed them even further.
The farmer had an idea.
He would go out and sprinkle crumbs from his front porch to the open barn where he kept a coal-burning stove to keep his farm animals warm. He was sure that the birds would follow the crumb path to a warm refuge. Alas, the farmer was broken-hearted when the birds wouldn’t accept his plan. The farmer thought, “If only I were a bird, just for a moment, I could lead them myself into the safety of the barn”.
And that’s what God did. Became one of us. To lead us to safety.
In my later conversation with Brileigh later, in which I revisited the phenomenon of God walking on earth, I broached the subject of Jesus being called lots of different names, too – before and after He came to earth. Jesus was just His given name – common among Jewish boys of that time.
“Like what names, Nana?”
“Well, like Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”, I answered quoting my favorite Old Testament prophet, Isaiah. I also added, “He was later called King of kings.”
Her: He was a King?
Me: Yeah. But not like other kings.
Her: I remember a bad king who tried to kill Jesus when He was a baby.
I presumed she was talking about the madman Herod who had declared himself King of Jews until the Wise Men showed up at his front door and ruined everything. I began hoping to shed some light on this biblical account, “Yes, there was a king like that and…”
But before I could go on, she added, “I fink his name was Harold.”
There it is.
About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.
Nan and Dennis live in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.
Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.
Join the conversation: Has God’s timing for you ever proved way better than your expected time frame?