By Marjorie George
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,” (Isaiah 9:2)
The mom and her little girl, maybe about three years old, were in the doctor’s waiting room with me and various other persons. Cute little girl, and she really was no trouble, but she was not about to sit still in that chair next to her mom. There was a large aquarium in the waiting room to which the child made continual trips and then reported back to Mom: “Look! The lellow fishy is swimming. An’ a green one too!”
The rest of us were reading or checking e-mail on our iPhones, not paying that much attention, when we heard the thud, then the silence, then the wailing. A little too much fish-tank enthusiasm, and a table had gotten in the way. Mom came running, and then a couple of nurses with ice packs, but none of that was sufficient to placate the little girl. The more they tried to help, the more she flailed and wailed. Then, here it came, “I want my daaaaaaddy. Daaaaaaddy. Daaaaaddy.” Now, I am sure the child did not think this through logically, nor is she required to at the age of three. Daddy was not there, was not likely to be there, would not really have been able to do anything Mom and the nurses couldn’t if he had been there, but the little girl was looking for relief – right now — and the current options were not helping.
Oh, child, much older and much wiser people find themselves in that position all the time. How often have I assessed my situation, considered the options, and asked for something else, even when something else did not exist. And, oh, how fervently I have prayed that something else would materialize; as one Christian writer said, “We are continually asking God to make two plus two not equal four.”
So when I hear Isaiah saying, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,” (9:2) I am likely to leap up and say, “Please, sir, show me this light.” And off I go, turning over rocks, keeping Amazon in business buying the latest here’s-how-to-find-it book, signing up for the latest class – Looking, looking, where is it? where is it? Where is this light that will solve all my problems?
But here’s the thing – for the Christian, the light has already come. That was Christmas, and it was extended to all people at Epiphany. Now don’t quote me out of context ‘cause I’m not running for any political office; I am not saying we Christians don’t have more to learn, and I am not saying that the Christ light does not sometimes beckon us away from our present situations.
But Isaiah was speaking to his people in anticipation of what was to come, a people being held captive whose only hope came from recognizing the coming Christ. That Christ we have received. By his incarnation, by his manifestation to all, by our baptisms into his life, that light lives in us; and at some point in the search we need to look within, even if all we find is the small glow of one tiny ember. To be sure, the ember is not of our making; it is the great Christmas gift given to us that we must appropriate for ourselves.
Christ has come, and we must start living like it, realizing that all we need has already been given and is already available. And, Paul says, it is sufficient, for it is given by grace and works especially well when we recognize our own weakness. (See 2 Corinthians 12:9.)
The little girl eventually stopped crying, and when Daddy got home that night I am sure she had a tale to tell him: “Daddy, I fell down and I was crying and I wanted you.” And he likely gathered her up in his arms and kissed her boo-boo and made it all better and she was off to play. When we call on our Father, our Abba, he too gathers us up in his arms and says, “Here, child, here I am. And I am sufficient for you.”
Marjorie George is editor of ReflectionsOnline. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org