The doorbell rang. With Janet out sick, and me alone in the office, it was mine to answer. I pressed the button to unlock the door. Viewing our guest through the monitor, I decided to walk down the hall and greet her at the door.
She was an older lady and she seemed a little agitated. Actually, she seemed quite agitated. Without removing her cell phone from her ear, she told me that she was not from here, she was lost, and she had a doctor’s appointment. There was a problem with her thyroid.
I started to inquire about her destination in the hopes of gaining enough information to help her get where she needed to go. As I was trying to gather information, I realized she had someone, most likely the receptionist at the doctor’s office, on the phone. She was not talking to me at all, but to whoever was on the other end of the line.
I stood there eavesdropping on her conversation. I know, rather rude of me. When I had heard enough, I returned to my study and pulled up Mapquest. With the overheard tidbits gained from eavesdropping on her conversation, Mapquest magically made a map.
Back down the hallway I went, to show her the map and say, “Here is where you want to go.” I can’t do that, though, because she is still on the phone. So I stood there once again eavesdropping on her conversation. As I heard her repeating the landmarks that whomever she is talking to is giving her, I locate and identify them on the map that Mapquest has magically made.
I tried to hold the map in such a way that she could see it while she talked; pointing with my pen to the locations I heard her mentioning. Am I distracting her? It would appear so. I placed the map on the counter and took a step or two toward the other side of the room. Obviously she felt that she gained great insight from her conversation. Evidently she is more verbal than visual.
As she finished her phone call, she seemed to notice me again. Thanking me, she headed for the door. “Wait! Don’t you want the map?” I guess not. She is gone.
What happened there? I thought someone needed help. More than that, I thought that someone was asking for my help. The truth is that she was asking for help, frantically so. She was most concerned about getting where she needed to be and she was quite unsure as to how to get there. Her frustration was so great — near panic — that one voice could not solve her dilemma. She wanted all the help she could get. In a situation like that, it is hard to trust just one person that you have just met to tell you how to get to where you need to go.
After she was gone, I started thanking about our Advent journey. Every year we try to turn our lives toward Bethlehem and find our way to Jesus. Sometimes our need to see Him is great, almost frantic. We desperately want — no, need — to see Him. Other years, our need is not so great. We give ourselves to the hustle and bustle of the season trusting that we will get to where we need to be.
Either way, we are confronted with an abundance of directional signs and voices eager to move our lives to one version of Christmas or the other. We listen. Who knows? We might see Jesus or at least catch a glimpse.
But what if a glimpse is not enough? What if you really need to see Jesus? What if your need to hold Him and be held by Him is great, if not frantic? What do you do? You might try Mapquest; and while you might get directions to Bethlehem, I don’t think the Mapquest folks can show you the way to Jesus.
The troubling thing about Jesus is that He often turns up in places where we least expect Him. He has been that way from the start. You would expect the Son of God to be born somewhere special. Jesus was born in a stable because there was no room for Him in the nicer places. If you really need to get to Jesus this Christmas, you might start in those places where people go when there is no room for them in the nicer places.
Solitude is definitely on the way to wherever Jesus is. In stillness and silence with the abundance of seasonal noise pushed away, the angel can be heard again, “Do not be afraid, for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people. To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
Turning down the volume on the wisdom the world offers to us is not an easy thing for us to do. If you do listen to what everyone else is listening to, and you hear what they hear, you might get left out or left behind. Worse yet, you might be thought of as different. Underneath the din of this world’s noise, there is a voice that was born to speak into our lives. Beyond the clanging of our culture’s racket, there is a child being born who calls us to love, peace, joy, and hope. In the listening silence of prayer, we can hear that voice and find our way to Jesus.
People are another landmark along the way to Jesus. If we are to get where Jesus is this Christmas, we will have been with some people. The people who help us to see Jesus may be gathered in a sanctuary on Christmas Eve, breaking bread and drinking juice and remembering why this child was born. It may be the songs of joy, hope, and expectation that those people sing that help us find our way to Jesus. The people who help us see Jesus may be smaller in number. People, family, and friends, gathered around a table, sharing a meal and being with each other, may be the very thing that helps us find our way to Jesus this year.
I hope you find your way to Jesus this year. Do not be discouraged even if you feel lost and adrift. The Good News is that God is always looking for us.