Sometimes repetitious lyrics in praise music get a little too repetitious to suit me, and they kick in something called “the law of diminishing returns.” It’s like loving that first bite of a foot-long hot dog, but by the time you get about 10 inches into it and contemplate your next bite, your taste buds are saying, “Really… do we have to do this again?”
Stuck Like a Pop-Up Ad ~
In spite of that, a song we sang in a service over a month ago had a single line that embedded itself in my head with the tenacity of one of those irritating pop-up ads that your ad blocker can’t seem to get rid of. It was a comment made in reference to God’s involvement in the songwriter’s life, and the singer delivered it again and again. “You made a way,” she sang, “when there was no way…” It was a simple lyric — not a multi-syllable word in it. No complex theological conundrums were unraveled and no perplexing mysteries unveiled, just an uncomplicated declaration about God showing up when we’re helpless and overwhelmed and about His power to do things we cannot do.
It wasn’t a “Christmas song,” but the implications of that melodious testimony struck me as being profoundly relevant as the “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men” season shifts into full swing. At some point every year, most of us pause and realize again that Christmas isn’t an emotionally monochromatic time. Optimistic joy doesn’t fill every heart, and many would declare that the blessing of “peace on earth” somehow managed to bypass their neighborhood. Far too many discover that declarations of Christmas joy and cheer only add to their pain. Eyes blurred by tears find it hard to focus on the colored lights and tinsel.
An Accompanying Mental Video ~
As the lyric plays in my head, I think of friends whose partner for life is gone, and they’re are facing their first Christmas alone and don’t know where to turn. I think of those who are facing a financial crisis and don’t know how they’ll make it. I think of those who are facing the implications of a dreaded medical diagnosis and have run out of options. I think of those with rebellious children whose every intervention has proved to no avail. I think of those struggling with secret addictions, living in constant fear of being discovered and not knowing where to turn or what to do. And my heart sings that lyric to Him on their behalf, “You made a way when there was no way.”
God has proven throughout history that He is no stranger to human cries of hopelessness and human declarations of impossibility, but He also showed us something more. He invited us to consider His own confrontations with devastating disruptions, blocked avenues, and insoluble conundrums. Since the beginning, Satan has sought to put God in a box so that He could not have the one thing He wanted more than any other–an unbroken intimate relationship with the ones He created “like” Himself.
The impossible box the enemy worked to create was one in which God’s unquenchable love was blocked by His immutable righteousness. The irrevocable sin nature inherited by every descendant of Adam in every generation rose up to defy the standard of perfection that God’s holiness demanded, eliminating all hope of acceptance. No matter how much He loved, God couldn’t deny His righteousness, and no matter how much humans tried, they couldn’t suppress their sins. When it came to the issue of oneness, either perspective led to the same conclusion . . . There was just no way.
Another Way ~
Then an angel showed up at a nondescript house in a tiny village in a small country occupied by a foreign power. A young girl with no credentials, no social standing, no wealth, and no political connections listened in stunned silence as this extraterrestrial being greeted her with words that made no sense from a human perspective. In that moment, God sent a message to the world that He was about to make a way when there was no way. This virgin girl would be the channel through which God would begin to do things that couldn’t be done.
Eventually, the One she bore that night in Bethlehem would walk among those who were broken, poor, oppressed, abused, diseased, rejected, and hopeless. The impossibility of deliverance from a human standpoint was made even worse by the teaching that their only pathway to God was blocked by laws they compulsively violated, standards they couldn’t meet, and rules they couldn’t keep.
But this One who was among them now was calling them to abandon their fear and to follow Him. He taught them that there was another way. He taught them that faith could make a way when there was no way and proved it by constantly doing things that couldn’t be done. The lame with no way to walk danced in His presence. The blind with no way to see had their eyes opened and their souls flooded with beauty they never knew existed. Lepers afflicted and rejected with no way to be made clean threw off their lepers’ rags and wept with the joy of being touchable again. Even death’s cruel mockery of human strength and the tomb’s sovereign grip found their own power mocked by the authority of His words.
A Challenge to Consider ~
For those facing Christmas in a place with no way out, let me respectfully challenge whatever the circumstances dictate and suggest replacing it with Jesus’ words to one who shared your frightened confusion. In the simplest of terms and with omnipotent authority He said to every lost, trapped, failed, hopeless one of us, “I AM the way…” (John 14:6 NKJV)
He’s the way past, through, over, around, or out of whatever we’re facing. So, before engaging in another obligatory chorus of “Silent Night,” let’s take a moment to remember all the times He proved His power over every dead-end street men could find, and let’s sing together, “You made a way when there was no way…” Then let’s add the rest of the lyric, “…and I believe that You can do it again.”
© 2017 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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Forgive me for being so late responding–it has been such a hectic week, and I’m running even more behind than usual. I am so grateful for your gracious response and for the encouragement that it brought with it. May your Christmas celebrations be filled with the kinds of things that evolve into priceless memories.
Thanks for the words of truth. I pray this will encourage some who are lonely, hurt and broken this Christmas!
Such a blessing to hear from you, Roger, and our prayer is that you and your family have a Christmas season marked by unmistakable indications of God’s presence among you. I will always be grateful for your friendship and encouragement in so many ways.
Absolutely beautiful and comforting for those in pain and there are so many.
Thanks for brightening our Christmas season, Shirley–and our prayer is that yours is filled with the best kinds of material for new Christmas memories.