Hope through a Little Baby

bLucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulders. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.                                                                                 Isaiah 9:6 NKJV

Our greatest Christmas 2019 gift is the birth of a new baby this fall — my new grandson in New York.

But as I witness the news of suffering, homeless war-torn and starving families struggling to survive the upcoming winter, I cannot help but think of so many through the years who were brought hope—through the birth of a baby.

The year 1809 was a bleak and dismal time for giving birth. With the ruthless dictator Napoleon determined to conquer the world, there was little hope left in anyone’s heart. Yet in that one year alone, babies who were destined to change the world were born – Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, William Gladstone, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Edgar Allan Poe, Cyrus McCormick and Felix Mendelssohn.

While no one noticed.

Millennia before, very few noticed a young couple arriving in Bethlehem, who were forced to spend the night in a stable and give birth to their baby there. But God knew. He orchestrated this humble birth as the beginning for the child who would literally change the course of history – Jesus Christ.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:7 NRSV

Do you ever wonder what this birth was really like?

Allow me to borrow the description of favorite storyteller Max Lucado: “A more lowly place of birth could not exist. Near the young mother sits the weary father. If anyone is dozing, he is… The mystery of the event still puzzles him. What’s important is that the baby is fine and that Mary is safe. Wide awake is Mary. My, how young she looks! Her head rests on the soft leather of Joseph’s saddle. The pain has been eclipsed by wonder. She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty.

“At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what he is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel, ‘His kingdom will never end.’ He looks anything but a king. His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. And he is absolutely dependent upon Mary for his well-being. This newborn baby is majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter.” (Max Lucado, His Name is Jesus: Promise of God’s Love Fulfilled).

I picture that scene surrounded by the music of a fifth century carol, “O that birth forever blessèd, when the virgin, full of grace, By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race; And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer, First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore! (“Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” Aurelius Prudentius)

Babies. Birth. Hope.

May you and yours treasure the quiet and peaceful moments that are waiting for you during this holy and yes, hope-filled, Christmas week.

TWEETABLE
Hope through a Little Baby – encouragement from @LucindaSMcDowel on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

LucindaSMcDowell.19 (2)About the author: Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while helping people to choose a life of serenity and strength. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, McDowell is the award-winning author of 15 books. Whether co-directing the ReNew Retreat, pouring into young mamas, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages.

Lucinda’s latest book, Life-Giving Choices: 60 Days to What Matters Most, is a devotional book designed to help you discover what brings life, joy, and meaning. While there are myriad ways in which we can choose to spend our lives, only a few essentials truly matter. “Don’t settle for the good when you can choose the best.”

Join the Conversation: What are you waiting for?

A Season of Waiting…

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

“But me! I will keep watch for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.”  Micah 7:7 CEB  

Imagine waiting more than 400 years for an answer to prayer!

That’s what God’s chosen people had to do – they waited in the dark, hoping for deliverance. Perhaps while singing their own version of “Come, Thou long expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free…”[1]

In between the Old and New Testaments, the heavens seemed closed to the nation of Israel. God was silent. They thought nothing was happening. And likely felt their prayers for a Messiah were falling on deaf ears. Yet, in reality, God was still at work bringing about the perfect political and religious settings for the appearance of His Son.

God’s timing is always best. Even if it means we have to wait. We can always be assured that He hears us.

During those waiting years, the Jews had become unwilling subjects of the Roman Empire. They wanted more than just limited freedom to worship and hope. As they read the prophecies of the Old Testament, they dreamed of a Messiah who would finally arrive and restore them to the powerful nation they were in the time of King David. Surely this person would be a mighty warrior, a strong and larger-than-life hero!

No one was looking for a helpless, newborn baby. In a barn.

What are you waiting for these days?

Maybe for that feeling to go away? You know, the one that keeps reminding you that you’re not enough and never will be, the one where you are searching for something that will make everything else fall into place…but it’s just beyond reach? Sometimes I think I’m waiting to experience that Perfect Family Gathering with diverse loved ones all in agreement and full of praise for me as the matriarch (you know, when “her children rise up and call her blessed…”).

God knows.

He desires good things for us but often His timing is not in sync with ours. “We orient our lives to speed. We want faster computers, fast food, instant coffee. We want what we want now, so waiting becomes hard. Waiting in our prayer life and waiting for Christmas become disciplines we return to every December. For what do we wait? Do we wait for a baby to be born? Do we wait for peace to dwell in the whole world and in our fractured, busy lives? Do we wait for the rebirth of joy, a rekindling of hope?”[2]

Here are some steps I find helpful during those excruciating waiting times:

  • Write down your prayers and concerns for this situation.
  • Assure God you truly desire His will in His way.
  • Intercede in prayer for others you know who are also waiting.
  • Take the next step that has been made clear to you.

Why not choose to try one of these in these days of Advent? Keep watch. God will show up.

[1] “Come, Thou long expected Jesus” a hymn by Charles Wesley, 1745

[2] “Openings,”

TWEETABLE
A Season of Waiting… – insight from @LucindaSMcDowel on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

LucindaSMcDowell.19 (2)About the author: Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while helping people to choose a life of serenity and strength. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, McDowell is the award-winning author of 15 books. Whether co-directing the ReNew Retreat, pouring into young mamas, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages.

Lucinda’s latest book, Life-Giving Choices: 60 Days to What Matters Most, is a devotional book designed to help you discover what brings life, joy, and meaning. While there are myriad ways in which we can choose to spend our lives, only a few essentials truly matter. “Don’t settle for the good when you can choose the best.”

Join the Conversation: What are you waiting for?