Monday, July 23, 2007

Luke #17 – From the Feed Trough to My Heart

Luke #17 – From the Feed Trough to My Heart

“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:4-7 – King James Version).

My wife has her egg collection in a cherry display case with glass shelves. I keep my lap top computer in a nice padded case. Get this…for my baseball cards I keep the most expensive ones in a special type cases called “screw tight” cases that has a lifetime guarantee; the next level of worth are kept in individual plastic card holders; even the least expensive of my cards are kept in plastic sleeves and stored in acid free boxes. I keep my ten year old car, with its peeling paint, under a car shed (my beat up truck is right beside it). We tend to take care of our things of value.

When I think of how we give special treatment to our possessions and then I read today’s Scripture I find a stark contrast. When our Savior was born into this world He was placed in a manger. When I use the word “manger” it doesn’t sound that bad, does it? Let me explain what a manger is: without any fanfare, the best definition is to call it a feed trough. Knowing that I cannot help but picture some of the things we used over the years for the purposes of feeding our animals. To feed dogs and cats at various times we often used old hubcaps. Of course we used a lot of different buckets over the years. One of the longest lasting feeding troughs we had was a hot water heater tank that had been split the long way to make two separate feeding trays. Very similar to that, and the most common, were fifty-five gallon barrels cut in half the long way to make two troughs. Now every time I read the story of Christ’s birth I cannot help but think that Jesus lay in something that was akin to a cut barrel. All of a sudden “manger” is not so attractive.

That was the lowly estate that God chose to usher our Savior into the world. I am so moved and encouraged that Christ understands the lowly. What hardship would we have that He cannot directly relate to? How perfectly at home I feel when I talk to my Savior! How sure I am that He understands the things I lack, my financial needs, the raggedy car I drive, the threadbare cuffs on my pants, and the host of other things that are wrong in my life. How humbled I am when I complain, knowing that Christ Himself was born and raised poorer than I could imagine and I find no record of complaint from Him.

Furthermore, how amazed I am that Christ’s current earthly residence of choice is me! Let me explain it this way; recently I visited Duke Chapel. It was absolutely beautiful! While I stood open jawed, drooling at the wonder of that place I had an epiphany (that’s an “Aha!” moment); God COULD reside in such a place as this, but He chooses those who give their lives to Him. AMAZING! Christ was born poor, died broke, but gained all with His obedience. Now, were that a person (such as me), they would get a fancy mansion to help assuage the pangs of former poverty. Christ doesn’t do that. The little manger He was placed in was probably made of wood. The cross He died on was made of wood. The place He desires to inhabit now is heart of any who would trust Him. That meager little manger and our sinful hearts are not worthy to hold the King of Kings but He took them both.

Today I am in awe and very thankful that Christ moved from the feed trough to my heart. I cannot completely wrap my mind around it, but I will live in grateful response to it. How about you?

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