Holiday travel. It isn’t easy. Then why do we do it? Why cram the trunks and endure the airports? You know the answer. We love to be with the ones we love.
The four-year-old running up the sidewalk into the arms of Grandpa.
The cup of coffee with Mom before the rest of the house awakes.
That moment when, for a moment, everyone is quiet as we hold hands around the table and thank God for family and friends and pumpkin pie.
We love to be with the ones we love.
May I remind you? So does God. He loves to be with the ones he loves. How else do you explain what he did? Between him and us there was a distance—a great span. And he couldn’t bear it. He couldn’t stand it. So he did something about it.
Before coming to the earth, “Christ himself was like God in every-thing.… But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant” (Phil. 2:6–7 NCV).
Why? Why did Jesus travel so far?
I was asking myself that question when I spotted the squirrels outside my window. A family of black-tailed squirrels has made its home amid the roots of the tree north of my office. We’ve been neighbors for three years now. They watch me peck the keyboard. I watch them store their nuts and climb the trunk. We’re mutually amused. I could watch them all day. Sometimes I do.
But I’ve never considered becoming one of them. The squirrel world holds no appeal to me. Who wants to sleep next to a hairy rodent with beady eyes? (No comments from you wives who feel you already do.) Give up the Rocky Mountains, bass fishing, weddings, and laughter for a hole in the ground and a diet of dirty nuts? Count me out.
But count Jesus in. What a world he left. Our classiest mansion would be a tree trunk to him. Earth’s finest cuisine would be walnuts on heaven’s table. And the idea of becoming a squirrel with claws and tiny teeth and a furry tail? It’s nothing compared to God becoming a one-celled embryo and entering the womb of Mary.
But he did. The God of the universe kicked against the wall of a womb, was born into the poverty of a peasant, and spent his first night in the feed trough of a cow. “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14 NRSV). The God of the universe left the glory of heaven and moved into the neighborhood. Our neighborhood! Who could have imagined he would do such a thing.
Why? He loves to be with the ones he loves.