Long ago and far away a journey began. It was the greatest journey ever undertaken. And it was the longest, for its beginning and ending were in heaven and its stops were here on earth. The God of all creation became the earthly baby Jesus–a baby that would begin a journey of His own among the men fashioned after His own image.
It was His first and only journey as the Incarnate among men. He began that journey much as we all do our first journies. Awkwardly. To say that something of God is “awkward” seems inappropriate, but its very awkwardness is at the heart of the reason for the undertaking. Our first steps as toddlers are an awkward stumbling about until we gain balance and confidence. When God took his first steps among us it was awkward too. Not in the same way, for everything by Him was purposeful. But how awkward is it that the King Magnificent would make his entrance as a helpless baby? Even more awkward still to be born to a poor unwed virgin girl without a place to stay, in an unremarkable village unknown to those in the Roman center of the world. That wise men bringing gifts for a king would find the Christ-child laying in an animal feeding trough is the height of irony–a circumstance nothing short of awkward.
Yet, it is in this very awkwardness that the heart of the Journeyman shines forth. He came in the most awkward way possible to show that we’re worth the trip. Every journey you and I take has a core motivation for undertaking it. Whether to shop at a store to find a gift or travel to a distant place to experience a difference culture. We judge the outcome of the journey by how well it satisfies the reason we had for going, offset by our cost in taking it. If we come home without a gift, for instance, or if its price was higher than we wanted to pay, our experience is less than satisfying. The trip wasn’t worth it.
God began the greatest and most awkward trip on that Christmas day long ago because He loves His creation. And the price was as great as it could possibly be; an earthly visit begun in awkwardness and terminated in violence. Yet it was undertaken because it was worth the price to the Traveler. When He was older, Jesus said He came to “seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). If nothing else, the awkwardness of His arrival teaches me that had I been the only one on earth, the Good Shepherd would have come for me as well. For He came not to draw attention to Himself, but to be with me and show me how to make my own awkward journey to the home He has waiting for me.
I, for one, am so glad this Christmas that God thought enough of me to show up, awkwardness and all.
As you reflect on Christmas this year, what makes your heart glad?