Welcome to the journey.
It’s six a.m. I look out my back window, and all I see against the backdrop of darkness is my reflection in the glass, thanks to the light from my screen. This might seem gloomy, but that image seems to represent my season of life right now—looking into darkness and seeing only myself.
How fitting to begin this Advent writing journey in the dark, evocative of the hundreds of years of waiting, longing, and suffering that God’s people experienced as they journeyed toward the manger that first time. Their hope for a Savior often as dim as a lamp burning its last drop of oil.
The journey to Christ begins in a sin-induced darkness. That’s the reality of a broken world. Gospel principle number one: we are fallen.
Your hope, like the Israelites’, might be flickering its last flame. This journey is for you then, and I’ve titled it Crawling toward the Manger for a reason. We don’t always have the strength to run the race marked out for us, as Paul encourages. That doesn’t mean we don’t race. It means we drop to our knees.
The idea of crawling elicits that sense of desperation. It’s the act you succumb to when weariness roosts on your heart and pushes you down. The act that demonstrates your last bleeding desire to reach a goal, despite having spent your energy.
But crawling also screams of infancy, and hasn’t Jesus bid us come as children?
Experts in child development say that crawling is an essential step for an infant that is not good for an infant to skip. I take this to mean that—in all areas of life—crawling can be a necessary, enjoyable stage. When I remember my children crawling, I picture them with smiles, cruising across the floor on all fours. They didn’t see crawling as an act borne of desperation, but rather as a delightful freedom that ushered them into a new world of exploration.
You might crawl toward the manger in both ways: desperate and delighted. I know I will.
Because I began this post with a dark tone, let me end it with hope: we always crawl toward the Light. The manger is a place of exceedingly bright light. It’s the cradle of the Christ Child, Jesus. Our hope on this side of Bethlehem is that Jesus has come, the Incarnate Son, and that God the Father has said through this act: I am crawling toward you. I am coming for you.
But more on that tomorrow.