Praise God for His unspeakable gift!
Exhausted and aching from the long journey, we finally approached the little village as evening just encroached. The flickering of firelight began to emerge through the windows of the houses from hearths and oil lamps. Lazy ribbons of smoke hung in the crisp air welcoming us with the scent of civilization. The streets were still swollen with the excess of people in town for the census taking. It wasn’t difficult to find the lodging house, with wayfarers coming and going, and the gaggle of children laughing and playing, arguing and crying, as they congregated outside the large building at the waning of the day.
I made my way to the front door and asked a lady just inside if I might speak to the master of the house. She faded back through the dimly lit room and soon reemerged with the master. Before I could speak, he raised his hands and said with apparent sincerity, “I’m very sorry, Sir, there is just no more room here, not even on the floor. I looked away in disbelief at yet another formidable trial on this journey. “But Sir, my wife is with child and about to deliver.” “I’m sorry,” he said with a twinge of exasperation, “but I can’t create room where there is none. If you want a little privacy, I can only suggest bedding down in the stable. I looked back at my wife, who was still seated on our little donkey. She was obviously in pain. “Honey, it’s time!” she said firmly.
I was incensed. I thought about ‘the dream’. Was I insane? An angel? A miraculous conception? A Savior? One would think that if this were God’s child – what an absurd thought to begin with – but if this were God’s child, would He not honor this moment with the greatest blessing and provision. A stable? Really?
Suddenly, the horrible thought could not be avoided. Had I really been duped. Had Mary really been unfaithful. Was she now being punished, and I with her, for her terrible sin? I caught myself quickly. I just can’t go there, now. I do love her and she is in a horrible situation. I must suppress all the anger and doubts and deal with the present crisis.
With a torch in hand, we worked our way back through the haphazard arrangement of stalls filled with all manor of domestic animals, especially the donkeys of travelers. The odor, though nothing peculiar to everyday life, was of such intensity that it was difficult to breath at first. We found a small space available in the back corner of the stable. Securing the torch, I gathered together the cleanest straw I could find and made as comfortable a place as I could for Mary to recline.
She was already in hard labor, and in a few moments the child was born. It’s a boy! We cleaned him up as best we could, and then wrapped him in the swaddling cloth we had brought along for the occasion. As the frantic activity surrounding the birthing process subsided, Mary clutched the baby to her bosom. We were both a bit startled as we looked into his eyes, which were wide open! Suddenly, inexplicably, we were whelmed with joy, peace, and love. We began laughing and crying together, and exclaiming, “Praise God for His unspeakable gift!” Remembering the anger, doubts, and pain that nearly paralyzed me a short time ago, I thought how they all had vanished, and now seemed so foolish and insignificant. I made a make-shift cradle out of one of the feeding troughs and placed the child in it. I then lay down by my wife and held her close as she began to drift off. Her face was unbelievably beautiful.
Suddenly, there were voices at the front. One called out, “Is there anybody in there?”
“Please”, I replied, “it’s very late. What business do you have here at such an hour? We are trying to get some rest.”
“I am truly sorry, Sir”, another voice responded. “It may sound crazy, but we were sent here by angels to see the newborn Christ child. Could it possibly be true?” Another wave of joy washed over me at this God-sent confirmation.
“Come and see!” A rag-tag ensemble of shepherds soon appeared through the darkness. Seeing the babe they knelt down and worshiped him. They then shared with us in detail the visitation of the angels and their joyous announcement.
As they soon disappeared again into the darkness, I began to understand the pattern: born in a stable, not a palace; announced to shepherds, not to royalty. This Child would be the Savior-King of the brokenhearted and the humble, the weak and the lowly, the contrite and repentant. His kingdom would truly NOT be of this world. Whatever was to follow, (and little could we know) Mary and I must hold in our hearts the angelic message, first announced to her, then to myself, and finally to the shepherds.
“For unto you, is born this day in the city of David,
a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!”
About Ed Ross
Ed Ross has been pastor of Springwood Chapel in York, PA for the past 16 years. He and his wife, Lynna, have been married 34 years, and have three grown children (a son and two daughters) who are all actively involved in the church and/or missions work.
Having attended Millersville University (PA: 1969-1972), Maranatha Baptist Bible College (WI: 1977-1980 ), he received a bachelor of theology from International Bible Institute & Seminary (FLA). He was first ordained into the ministry in 1980, at which time he and his wife began an Independent Baptist church, remaining there for eight years.
Ed has been bi-vocational at times, working in supervisory and management positions in the quality and manufacturing engineering fields.
He is actively involved in missions work, having spent significant time teaching among the amaZioni peoples of southern Africa. Ed has written numerous tracts and pamphlets, and currently publishes Tuesday’s Touch, a weekly e-devotional. He has also served as a city police chaplain for a number of years, and enjoys writing music/poetry, hiking, and traveling with his wife.