Joy to the World! The Lord Has Come




Although he only caught a quick glimpse and hadn’t seen her since that beautiful sun drenched autumn afternoon, he couldn’t get the young woman out of his mind. In his entire eighty two years of living on this planet, nobody had even come close to making such an intense positive impression on the old widower. And no one, including the man himself, would ever have imagined he would be having such astonishing feelings for a total stranger.

He had been driving down the hill on his way out of the assisted living facility in which he lived when another car approached from the opposite direction. As the cars passed he saw the other was being driven by a pleasant looking brunette who appeared to be in her early forties. She momentarily looked at him through the open window on the driver’s side, briefly locked her eyes on his, and then gave the old man what was to become the warmest, most captivating smile he had ever received, before they each continued on their separate ways.

The impression she made on him was awesome. If the truth be known, his feelings towards her came close to bordering on adoration. They even surpassed the wonderful ones the old man had for his late wife, their six children and eighteen grandchildren, and every one of their seven great-grandchildren combined. As much as he loved each of them dearly, the man intuitively knew he would enjoy being in the company of this young woman much more than any of them.

An old saying tells us, “There’s no fool like an old fool,” and that’s often true. But in this case it wasn’t. The closest you could come to describing his feelings was the way he felt for his mother in the earliest period of his life, because that’s who the young woman reminded him of.

His mom had taken care of him since the day he was born. More often than not her care could best be described as being an unconditional self-denying love. He remembered those occasions when she picked him up and cuddled him in her arms or sat him on her lap and soothed him whenever he was frightened or had fallen and hurt himself. She tried her best to see that each of his needs were met, and now, all these many years later, the old man fondly recalled how much he missed being in that good woman’s company.

As soon as he learned to talk, his mom was the only person he delighted in sharing his every fear and each of his fondest hopes with. But gradually, he became somewhat hesitant of being so open with her. It wasn’t as though his love for his mom lessened, because nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just that, in the course of time, he came to the realization that it would be to his advantage if he wasn’t “too open” with her.

In other words, as a young boy he gradually became apprehensive as to how his mom might respond if she knew each and every thought that was flowing through his young mind. And so, at a very early age he became cautious as to what he shared. He had developed an aversion towards being scolded and other equally unpleasant experiences, and he started teaching himself how to avoid unnecessarily subjecting himself to them.

Now, many years later, as inexplicable as it may seem, that moment the old man looked into the eyes of the young woman and saw that smile; he had a powerful impression that convinced him he could always allow himself to be completely transparent if he ever had the pleasure of being alone with her. He knew with absolute certainty that she was someone he could trust with his innermost thoughts just as he once was able to do with his beloved mom. He longed to share with this total stranger; a person he never even met, and whom he believed with all his heart would have the same feelings towards him, the person he truly was.

As he pondered that possibility, the old man became convinced that such a relationship would only be possible if he died and went to Heaven. There, total strangers who had finally been conformed into the image of Jesus would be completely relaxed in each others company, enjoying the serenity that always accompanies trusting one another completely and delighting in being their true Christ-like selves.

A few months later he found himself sitting alone in the early evening sipping a Diet Pepsi in the food court of a shopping mall and enjoying fond memories of Christmas’s past. It was Christmas Eve and the place was packed with last minute stressed-out shoppers relaxing a bit before continuing on their mission. The old man’s thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a woman hollering, “Call 911, call 911! Please hurry!” An equally frantic man’s voice shouted, “Stand back! Give her some breathing room!” The old man got up from the table, and, along with some other shoppers, made his way towards the commotion, never suspecting he was about to receive the shock of his life.

A crowd of people had formed a circle and were looking down at a very old ashen faced lady who had fallen out of her wheelchair and onto the floor. She was lying there clutching her chest and obviously laboring to breath. But that sight wasn’t what shocked the old man. After all, when you have lived as long as he had you probably would have witnessed similar incidents more often that you care to remember.

Expressions of concern, helplessness, sympathy, and, sad to say, even total indifference, were clearly evident on the faces of the onlookers. But it was the facial expression of one particular onlooker that stood out from the rest: the unmistakable captivating warm smile of the same young woman he had only caught a quick glimpse of a few months earlier. He couldn’t believe what he was witnessing and his heart sank into the pit of his stomach and left the old man with a putrid feeling of total revulsion.

Finally, a woman shopper announcing she was a doctor broke through the crowd, knelt down next to the old lady, and in a moment or so said softly, “She’s gone. There’s nothing anyone can do.” It was almost as though that was the cue for the smiling young woman to turn around and quickly walk away headed in the direction of the dumb-struck old man.  She seemed so happy and buoyant in her steps that it was almost as though she had just been reunited with a long lost friend. As she passed the old man, she broadened that familiar smile, gently squeezed his forearm and silently continued on her way.

That touch seemed as though it shook giant cataracts from the old man’s eyes and enabled him to see clearer than he had in his entire life. Walking away from him and obviously unseen by the other shoppers were a dozen or so equally euphoric people, closely following the young woman who was leading the way and holding the hand of the smiling  old lady who had just been pronounced dead. The two of them waived to him with mischievous grins on their faces, and then the whole crew suddenly vanished out of the old man’s sight.

Needless to say his mind was racing every which way as he sat later that evening in his rocking chair back home on that unforgettable Christmas Eve. There were no visions of sugar plumbs dancing in his head. Instead, as he was about to doze off, the old man suddenly envisioned that happy little group led by the young woman being welcomed into God’s Heaven. Never in his wildest imagination had he ever come close to what he was seeing and hearing. For instance, although everyone was incredibly happy, it was quite obvious that some of Heaven’s inhabitants possessed a much deeper and more intense degree of joy than the others.

One such person caught his eye, and although the old man was alone sitting in his rocker, he couldn’t resist pointing his finger at the happy person. In a Mila-second a horrific scene of seemingly never ending suffering taking place in  the persons past life on earth jumped up and flashed before the old man’s eyes much like an image or blurb pops-up whenever a curser goes over a certain area on a computer monitor. And whenever the old man stopped pointing his finger the image disappeared as suddenly as it had materialized.

As he thought about the intense prolonged suffering and sorrow he had just witnessed and compared it with the persons obviously indescribable joy in Heaven, the contrast was as stark as black and white. And whenever the old man compared the intensity of happiness of some folks with that of others in Heaven, he couldn’t help but wonder the reason for the difference.

Although he much preferred watching the joyful scenes in Heaven than those sad ones on Earth, his curiosity got the better of him and he pointed his finger at certain people again, and again, and again. The result was always the same. The intensity of joy a person was capable of experiencing in Heaven seemed to be in direct proportion to his or her heart felt desire and sincere struggle to somehow glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of the divinely ordained physical and emotional suffering that accompanied their earthly ordeal; anguish which was no more possible for them to escape from, than their own shadow on a sunny day in the middle of a desert.

The old man continued pointing his finger at certain people in Heaven. The result was always the same. He went back further and further in the person’s life, even to the moment he or she was conceived in their mother’s womb. But he didn’t stop there. Instead he continued generation after generation until he eventually passed out of time altogether, and entered into the other side of eternity.

From that vantage point the old man was able to look ahead, back into time and witness creation, including the beautiful birth and horrible death of the entire human race. But he was also able to see that terrible tragedy wasn’t the end of the perfect eternal plan of the Lord who works out everything according to the purpose of His own sovereign will, and that part of His eternal plan always included producing a race of people in His Son exclusively for Himself.

Now he clearly understood that it isn’t a matter of God looking down at the old dead race of people and then capriciously saving some folks by plucking them out of that dung-heap of humanity, while leaving others to wallow in it, and then reforming those He saved, because nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, it was God’s supernatural ongoing planned production of a new race of spiritual people, a people in whom the very Spirit of the Living God Himself would dwell, and which could only be produced by means of a spiritual birth.

In other words, back in eternity past, our Sovereign God planned on creating a very special race of people. And just as He had planned on taking some, not all, but some of the dust from the ground to form the first man, He also planned on using some, not all, but some of the folks from the dead race of people to produce new creatures in Christ. Those formerly dead people had been brought into being for this very purpose every bit as much as that particular dust had been brought into existence to form the first human.

The old man now could see clearly that every Christian has been set apart by God from the moment of their birth for a specific purpose. And it didn’t matter when the Christian became aware of that fact. He remembered that in the great Apostle Paul’s case, it wasn’t until many years after Paul had been born that God called him, and only at that time did He reveal His Son to him, so that Paul might preach Jesus among the gentiles (Galatians 1:15-16). And so it continues to this day, with all those folks who have been chosen in Him, from before the foundation of His world (Eph. 1:4).

The man’s memory had been jogged and he remembered how the old 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith succinctly summed it up: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” And often the means God uses to achieve this end is to allow some of His most precious children to glorify Him by first inclining them to desire, and then enabling them to endure their divinely ordained ordeal in a Christ honoring manner.

The old man learned on that memorable Christmas Eve that although it was light years away from anyone even coming close to experiencing the intensity of suffering Christ endured, their own suffering enabled them to have an intense appreciation for the magnitude of His love for His people. God had eternally planned on using their suffering to prepare them to experience what the Apostle Paul referred to as being “an eternal weight of glory,” (2 Cor. 4:17). In other words, God was using the sufferings of these special children in order to prepare and enable them to be capable of rejoicing in the Lord Jesus forever, in a way the rest of His children can’t.

As for God’s other children; the old man now understood that they also were filled with incredible joy to their fullest capacity. They simply didn’t know what they were missing out on anymore than a person blind or deaf from birth can possibly have an appreciation for a beautiful sunrise or Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

In other words, these Christians were also just as happy as they could possibly be. And all because, when the fullness of time had come, their Sovereign Lord sent forth His Son to redeem those whose names He had written in “The Book of Life,” every single one of those He had chosen in Christ to adopt as His children from before the foundation of His world (Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:4; II Thes. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; Rev. 13:8; Rev. 17:8).

Romans 11:33-36 (AMP) 33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!

34 For who has known the mind of the Lord and who has understood His thoughts, or who has [ever] been His counselor? 35 Or who has first given God anything that he might be paid back or that he could claim a recompense [reward]?

36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. [For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him.] To Him be glory forever! Amen (so be it).

No sooner had these wonderful truths sunk into his mind and heart than a spasm gripped the old man’s foot causing it to cramp up and produce sharp pain. The old man bolted out of his rocking chair and started hopping all over the place. And when he looked at his clock and saw that it was ten o’clock on Christmas Morning, then, despite being in pain, he hopped happily right out the door.

One by one, apartment doors flung open and incredulous neighbors saw a sight they would long remember; the old man doing a jig while he shouted: “Joy to the world! The Lord has come.” What no one saw however was a pleasant looking young woman with brunette hair brandishing the warmest, most captivating smile imaginable, slowly walking towards the end of the hall and then continuing straight through the wall and out of the building.

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December 24, 2006 Posted by Categories: Uncategorized Tagged with:
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