I love praise music, but sometimes choruses get a little too repetitive to suit me. They kick in something called the law of diminishing returns. It’s like comparing the first bite of a foot-long hot dog that you love with the one facing you about 10 inches into it. By that time, your taste buds may be saying, “Really? Do we have to do this … again?”
Stuck Like a Pop-Up Ad ~
In spite of that caveat, a song we sang in our worship service over a month ago had a single line that embedded itself in my head – but not because of the number of times it was repeated. It was the message in the words that captivated me. It stuck in my head with the tenacity of one of those irritating ads that gets played over and over on TV. (I actually woke up in the middle of the night not long ago with a song about “cottage cheese” playing on an endless loop in my head. At least two things are frustrating about that. The first is that I consider cottage cheese to be about as appetizing as sucking on a pair of sweaty gym socks (pardon me). The second is that now that I’ve mentioned it, the song is off and running again. So it’s obviously time to change the subject.)
The phrase that was so compelling that Sunday morning had to do with God’s direct 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 — there was not a multi-syllable word in it. No complex theological conundrums were unraveled, and no perplexing mysteries were unveiled. It was just an uncomplicated declaration about being helpless and overwhelmed and God showing up with the power to do things we cannot.
Not Another Carol ~
It wasn’t a Christmas song, but the implications of that melodious testimony struck me as being profoundly relevant as the “Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men” season shifts into full swing. At some point every year, most of us pause and realize again that Christmas isn’t always like a Hallmark movie. The ending isn’t always happy, and optimistic joy doesn’t fill every heart. In the anxiety-ridden culture that surrounds us, the blessing of Peace on Earth seems to have bypassed many neighborhoods. Hearts broken by loss and eyes blurred by tears find it hard to focus on the colored lights and tinsel.
As the praise song’s message plays in my head, I think of friends whose partner for life is gone. Some are facing their first Christmas alone and wrestling with a void that cannot be filled. The plight of those who’ve lost their jobs and don’t know how they’ll make it come to mind. I think of those facing the implications of a dreaded medical diagnosis and who have run out of options. My heart breaks for those with rebellious children, and those struggling with secret addictions, living in constant fear of being discovered and not knowing where to turn. I remember times that I felt like some of them until God showed up, and then my heart begins to sing that lyric to Him on their behalf, “You made a way when there was no way.”
A Scheming Opponent ~
Throughout history, God has proven that He’s no stranger to human cries of hopelessness and declarations of impossibility, but He also showed us something more. He invited us to consider His own confrontations with insoluble conundrums. Since his fall from Heaven, and like a scheming chess player, Satan has sought to back God into a corner where there are no moves left and cry “Checkmate!” He’s wanted to prevent God from having the one thing He desires more than anything else – an intimate and eternal relationship with those that He created to be “like” Him.
The impossible corner the devil worked to create was one in which God’s unquenchable love would be blocked by His immutable righteousness. Satan’s masterful deception of Eve, and Adam’s subsequent fall, unleashed a curse on the earth and all that his seed would reproduce. His descendants in every generation rose up to defy God’s standard of righteousness and the perfection that His holiness demanded. Sin contaminated everyone and eliminated all possibility of acceptance. No matter how much God loved, He couldn’t deny His righteousness and ignore their sins, and no matter how much humans tried, they couldn’t suppress their desires or escape their sins. The intimate relationship that God longed for, and that hopeless humans desperately needed, was out of reach from both directions … there just seemed to be no way.
Making 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 that Mary bore that night in Bethlehem would walk among those who were broken, poor, oppressed, abused, diseased, rejected – and hopeless. Those who were told by hypocritical teachers that their only hope of deliverance was through a maze of laws they compulsively violated, standards they couldn’t meet, and rules they couldn’t keep, would hear from Him that God was “making another way.”
Jesus taught them that their faith in Him 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’ own 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, the truth, and the life… (John 14:6 NKJV)
He’s the way past, through, over, around, or out of whatever we’re facing. So, as this Christmas season begins, I have a suggestion. Before engaging in another obligatory chorus of Silent Night, take a moment to remember all the times He brought a way when there was no way. How many times did He open a way when temptations, pressures, or a series of bad choices, led to a dead-end? How often did you hang your head as the darkness swallowed every hope – and how did it feel when the light you thought could never come began to dawn for you?
Maybe singing a song with a chorus like, “You made a way when there was no way…” could make your Christmas look even brighter. Then be sure to add the rest of the lyric, “… and I believe that You can do it again!“
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “In the anxiety-ridden culture surrounding us, the blessing of “peace on earth” seems to have bypassed many neighborhoods. Hearts broken by loss and eyes blurred by tears find it hard to focus on the colored lights and tinsel.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “God sent a message to the world that He would ‘make a way’ when there was no way. A young virgin girl in a nondescript house in a tiny village would be the channel thru which God would begin to do things that couldn’t be done.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Those told by hypocritical teachers that their only hope of deliverance was through a maze of laws they compulsively violated, standards they couldn’t meet & rules they couldn’t keep, would hear from Jesus that God was making another way.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Lepers afflicted & rejected with no way to be made clean threw off their lepers’ rags & wept with the joy of being touchable again. Even death’s cruel mockery of the tomb’s grip found its own power mocked by the authority of Jesus’ words.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Jesus is the way past, through, over, around, or out of whatever we’re facing. So, as this Christmas season begins, and before engaging in another obligatory chorus of Silent Night, take a moment to remember the many times He brought a way when there was no way.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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