Holding a baby. Not just any baby either.
Seemed as ridiculous then as it does now.
You see, I thought I was made for hay. Cow cud and donkey slobber were my specialty. Dirt and dung my norm.
So I could never in my wildest dreams have guessed I’d be an earthly bed for the God who never sleeps.
After all, I was just a manger.
“Sweet little Jesus Boy, they made You be born in a manger. Sweet little Holy child, didn’t know who You was.”
On that night I so wished I was different. More of what He deserved. A regal bed in a royal chamber. Soft pillows draped in silk. Warm. Comfortable. Beautiful.
But that is not at all what I was.
Most people thought I was just a useless hunk of stone. But at least the farmer thought I was good for something. So I was given a job. I could feed livestock.
Not glamorous. Not much fun. But it was something.
I figured it was all I was good for.
Please understand, I went through a lot to become a manger. You don’t get to be a feeding trough unless you’ve been deeply cut by hammer and chisel. I was broken and busted up.
You see it hurts when you are hollowed out to make room for something. I didn’t have a clue the “something” I was to hold was really Someone.
But then…there was that night. I’ll never forget it.
“…she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger…” (Luke 2:7)
The bright light of heaven shown over my little barn and before I knew it–I was holding God!
Eternity now rested in the rugged arms of time.
You humans sing about it all the time, “Away in a manger, no crib for a bed…” But do you have any clue what it really means?
I was just a nondescript old manger. Common. Dirty. Ugly. Unnoticed.
But then the Baby came. That changed everything.
Oh I still looked like a rough-hewn rock, but this special child transformed me into something people all over the world have remembered every year in every generation since that night.
I was only an empty vessel. But when He entered, when He filled me, I became what I didn’t even know I was meant to be.
The presence of that Child became my significance.
I now stand as one of the two greatest symbols of hope in all of history. The other isn’t any more special than me. It’s a wooden cross.
Together, we are the visceral, visible signs of how far God will go to show you His love.
If the God of eternity would come to this planet and willingly spend His first night in the stench and stains of my make-shift cradle, then you should realize this:
…there is no person too far gone or too low down to be His home.
“The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger; in all our trials born to be our friend. He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger. Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!”
It doesn’t matter how hard life has been on you or how much slop you’ve seen in your time. The truth of this manger is simple:
God isn’t afraid of your mess.
There is nothing in your history that limits your destiny. No matter your past, His presence will change your future.
It did mine.
“The throne of God in the world is set not on the thrones of humankind but in humanity’s deepest abyss, in the manger. There are no flattering courtiers standing around his throne, just some rather dark, unknown, dubious-looking figures who cannot get enough of looking at this miracle and are quite prepared to live entirely on the mercy of God.” (Dietrich Bonhoefer)
Maybe that’s why I was chosen.
The Angel told those shepherds that night, “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)
A sign. To you.
Maybe you’re just like me. A messy place that’s held a lot of stuff you’d rather not talk about.
God wants you to know something incredible–unbelievable really.
You get to hold him too.