They just won’t see. It kept rolling around in my head as I drove. It was pretty mellow as Christmas vacations had started and there were less cars out on the road. Up ahead though, I could see the flashing lights of the highway patrol, so I slowed down and stayed in the fast lane as the police were off on the right hand side. As I got closer, I realized there was also a car parked next to the center median. There had been an accident, and while it wasn’t serious, there were multiple cars and a semi stopped on both sides of the highway. It was then I looked behind me. Cars were starting to catch up, and I figured that they just hadn’t seen the wreck yet. They didn’t know why we were slowing down and taking our time. As soon as I passed the stopped cars, I got over to the right lane and watched as the cars behind me went past. Some were like me taking it easy as they passed the wreck, while others were not being so careful. They were driving as if the road was clear and they were not navigating an accident scene. It was then that I thought, even with it right in their face, they just won’t see. It’s not that they can’t see, since by this time they were right in the middle of all the cars involved, but they won’t see. It broke my heart, as I was immediately thought about God and how He shows Himself to each of us. We see the miracle of this life, but do not see who created the miracle. It’s not that we can’t see, we just won’t see!
I thought about it again when I started listening to a book at lunch. The first story in the book had me hooked immediately, since it’s a favorite historical moment of mine. The quick version? Well it’s 1914 and it’s Christmas Eve. You know that war that was supposed to be over by Christmas? Well, it wasn’t. The men on the front lines are missing home, family and their own Christmas traditions. During this evening and through Christmas Day, the men reach out to each other to “celebrate” Christmas. It starts slowly, but soon they are exchanging food, cigarettes, playing football (the English kind) and sharing photos of their loved ones back home. That night, the men were given a reprieve from this new kind of nightmare. The mechanized muddy stalemate of men and modern warfare. For that short time, fear, hate, and the horrors of war were defeated by something greater. The birth of a Savior! When the powers that be on all sides found out about what occurred in the trenches, they vow that this will not happen again. And it never did. That moment on the battlefield where mercy and grace won out over hate was not allowed to be repeated. Those in charge were much like the drivers on the road, they just won’t see. Instead of seeing the miracle of the day, and acknowledging the power of the birth narrative, they doubled down on death.
I love the truth in the story, because it shows the heavenly in sharp contrast to our humanity. The human part of the story is full of war, death and brutality. The heavenly part was what brought them together, the birth of Christ! When I hear the story of that Christmas in 1914, I always think of the shepherds in the birth narrative. Did the angels come to see them on purpose? Or was the jubilation in heaven so boisterous that it spilled out into the night sky! Even the heavens couldn’t contain the excitement over the fulfillment of this very special prophecy! Someone left the back door of heaven open, and there were the shepherds watching in amazement! Maybe that’s what happened to the soldiers on that cold December night? The back door of heaven opened, and mercy flowed from a gracious Heavenly Father. The men didn’t see angels, but the Spirit was there. Like the wind, it wasn’t visible, but history shows us the effect of the Spirit’s presence. On that Christmas Eve, the same celebration that happened so many years ago was again awakened to overcome fear and death. For those brief hours kindness, grace and mercy flowed straight from the throne of God.
Lord I know we all have eyes that can see, but I ask you to give us eyes that WILL see!
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