It had been sitting on the 'To-Be-Read' shelf for more than a year. I'd bought One Wintry Night because I have a thing for collecting books by favourite authors and Ruth Bell Graham is definitely on the top of that list. I knew it was a children's book, so kept putting off reading it until this year. It's that time of the year when everyone is thinking “CHRISTMAS." And it seemed appropriate in a way, so I picked it up nonchalantly and sat down to read, not expecting anything dramatic.
But this was Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham, writing.
The story seamlessly blends a present day setting with a bird's-eye-view of the reason Jesus came into this world. It's a story for children, true, but will appeal to adults too. I was spellbound and engaged, turning each page with excitement. The readers are led from Creation all the way to Resurrection. The story clearly and simply points us to Jesus and the reason Christmas ought to be celebrated.
You must be wondering why I'm so enthralled by a children's book.
The story of Christmas is well-known. We've heard it all and read it all. There's nothing new to discover. But believe me, seeing the entire story of God's redeeming love for all of humanity moved me to tears. The story shows us how He has been seeking us constantly – all through history – seeking to bridge the relationship that we severed through sin. He came after us, loved us and restored us to Himself by paying the ultimate price. Oh what love!
The story beautifully weaves the past and the present. But the intricate design that emerges is a tapestry of God's agape love for us unworthy sinners. The description of Christ on the cross, crying out to His Father - “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” - broke my heart. The Father's love for us – I cannot even begin to explain!
All I can do is kneel in adoration and gratefully accept His gift – the best gift I could ever receive – a restored relationship with my heavenly Father through Jesus Christ.
I'd like to leave you with a portion from the book that touched me deeply -
“There she was – the woman with the radiant smile! She was lying on soft hay piled beside one of the stalls...And...in the feeding trough for the cows, lay the baby. He seemed so tiny, wrapped tight in a long linen band and sleeping soundly like any other baby. He slept as though the world had not waited thousands of years for that moment. As though (the) lives...of everyone on earth were not wrapped up in His birth. As though all the sin and sorrow of the world was not His concern.
Aaron wondered if he dared speak to the young mother... He wanted to ask her if he could touch the baby. Not to wake Him, but just to touch Him. Then Aaron looked at his own grubby hands. He couldn't remember when he had last washed them. So he tucked them behind his back and just looked.
Aaron glanced at Anna. Little Anna was on her knees, her hands clasped together, a look of surprise and joy on her face. Tears were trickling down her grimy little cheeks.
Aaron knelt beside her.”
As Christmas draws nearer, I encourage you to consider this message, if perhaps for the first time ever. And embrace Christmas in a way, perhaps, you never have before.
May we all kneel in adoration this Christmas season!