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The Bethlehem Story

Virginia Brandt Berg

We are again nearing the Christmas season, and wonderful Christmas decorations are already up and the shop windows are full of Christmas things, some of them with very special automation to depict different seasonal scenes.

I stood thinking in front of one of these stores where the window was full of animated elves; they were dancing round about. I stood there wondering why such a scene was given to depict our lovely Christmas. Such a scene to celebrate the birthday of our Christ, God’s Son! I wonder why the manager at the store didn’t prefer to have the lovely manger scene, so beautiful and so appealing to the human heart. Why all the foolishness instead? Silly little elves dancing around and playing on little tin horns!

Then I thought of the Bethlehem scene. Perhaps that’s not the way that man would have revealed the great God. Man wouldn’t think of choosing such a way to have revealed God, or to have founded any great movement such as Christianity.

I stood there thinking of these things, and I thought, they would never think of choosing a wee babe, a manger, a carpenter’s bench. This is so contrary to the carnal mind. This would be a blow to man’s pride. It wouldn’t be man’s idea of showing the power and strength of a mighty God. He says in His Word, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”1 Then I thought about 1 Corinthians 1:27, where God’s Word says, “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and the weak things to confound the mighty.”

Surely in this birth of God’s Son, this wonderful Bethlehem story, God has confounded the mighty. God is showing that His way of doing things may be quite contrary to human logic and natural expectations.

When God desired to manifest Himself, He took this tiny weak little babe and wrapped Him in human flesh. This glorious truth, He brought to us in His own way. I wondered as I stood there, what is the lesson for me in all this? That God takes the foolish things to confound the mighty? Yes. But in Isaiah 27:5, God says, “Take hold of my strength.” And in Isaiah 49:5 it says, “My God shall be my strength.”

In the past we have forgotten that He’s given the minority a victory so that we can learn the lesson that without Him we can do nothing.2 We feel that if we’re strong we’re surely going to win; the laws of heaven seem so foolish to us. But how many, many times God has given the victory to the minority in order to show the truth of His Word, that when we are weak, then we are strong! For as someone has so wonderfully said, “God and one are a majority.”

God and a tiny baby can transform the hearts of men and change the maps of the world. When God works, He takes a tiny pebble to kill a giant, and thus He shows how little it takes if God is in it. Thus it is that the wise Christian will say, “I have no strength of my own. I can’t do these things alone; I have to have God’s strength and help. I must have God on my side.” Then because of your utter dependence on God and your utter helplessness, the Lord will come to your aid. He’ll come with heavenly reinforcements and back you with all the resources of heaven, and the scripture is then fulfilled, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

In the daily press of life, we must remember that living in the presence of God and fellowshipping daily with the Lord Jesus is what will transform the heart and soul. But somehow meditation has become a lost art in the mad rush of this generation. This mad rush is accelerated at the height of the Christmas season; that is, the shopping season. Some will never stop to enjoy anything of life until after Christmas, and then they will fall into bed, sighing, “Well, I’m glad that’s all over.” What a pity!

Why don’t we stop and enjoy Christmas, I mean really enjoy what it means. Enjoy the beauty; and just stop all this trying to do so much. There are so many wonderful things about this season and so many beautiful things to see. It’s a shame to miss it all just to meet some people’s expectations or try to keep up with the Joneses, and wrapping this and wrapping that and rushing for this last thing and that, and trying to cook up so many foods.

We miss the Lord Himself in our feverish rush. Psalm 16 says, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”3 He’s near. He is at our right hand. He is within speaking distance. But we will never see Him when we are too busy to notice Him, and in the mad rush of the Christmas shopping we don’t even notice He’s there.

We’ll not hear the voice of the Lord, for that’s heard only in quiet waiting on Him in a holy hush, when you can have the time to disentangle His voice from the many voices about you. It is a very still, small voice and isn’t often heard on the run.

There is an old saying that “the dew never falls on a stormy night.” So the sweetness of Christ’s presence is rarely found by nervous souls in the feverish rush. But the dew of heaven and the choicest blessings fall on that soul that gets quiet and waits for His presence.

I think He may stand today in our busy shopping centers with arms outstretched, saying, “Be still and know that I am God,” and that other wonderful verse we quote so often, “In quietness and confidence shall your strength be.”4

Listen, my friend, life will always be a long round of rush and activity and feverishness without a personal relationship with the majestic Christ. He alone can bring that peace, rest, and quiet to the heart if you’ll only stop and let Him.

Dear Lord, I want each day that comes
To share some part with Thee,
Where I can sit at Thy dear feet
And hear Thee speak to me.
A place where I can turn aside
And leave the cares of life,
Where I can get the strength I need
To banish storm and strife.
A quiet, holy, trysting place
Where Thou to me canst give
The very blessing that I need;
Here would I rest and live.
—“Trysting Place,” by Martha Grenfell

God bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you this Christmas and always.

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1 Isaiah 55:8–9.

2 John 15:5.

3 Psalm 16:8.

4 Psalm 46:10; Isaiah 30:15.