Meet Him at the Manger
By Jill Briscoe
I was in Europe at Christmas. A luncheon had been arranged in a country club. Three men had paid for 200 women to have lunch and listen to a speaker: the speaker was me. As far as the three men could tell, most of the women were not believers in Christ. They had planned it that way. They just didn’t tell me till I was at the door!
We had refreshments on the covered terrace. I looked around and felt decidedly nervous. Leaving the chatter in a myriad of European languages, I went inside, took the Golden Book out, and looked at the passage of Scripture I had planned to use. This was not the crowd I was prepared for.
Thankfully, the Lord came and sat beside me.
“Oh, Lord, I’m so glad. I didn’t know you’d been invited!”
“What are you going to tell them? He asked.
“Well that’s it – I don’t know now. I thought they were all going to be church people. I’m so glad you’ve come, Lord they’re really intimidating – these ‘ultra-suede ladies.’ Look at their clothes…”
“Look at their hearts,” He replied.
Then they all came into the dining room and there was no time to redo my notes or anything. Now I was really nervous! I put my head down as if I was looking for something under the table and prayed. Suddenly, someone walked up to my table.
“I feel drawn to you. I think you can help me,” she said softly. Then awkwardly, “I don’t know what I mean really. I don’t do this sort of thing!”
I looked up to find an English girl – young and very beautiful. She told me her name was Victoria, as she sat down by the table at my feet and waited expectantly.
I felt quite awkward having her there at my feet, but she appeared to be quite relaxed and the other guests didn’t seem to think it strange. Perhaps her clothing gave her away. She was festooned with crystals and emblems that told me she was in to all sorts of New Age thought and philosophies, and probably quite used to sitting on the floor – to meditate!
“Tell me about yourself,” I said. She looked a little startled – English women aren’t used to being asked to talk about themselves. “What’s your story?” I encouraged her. “Tell me about your spiritual journey.”
“I’ve come to a place where I know there is something more,” she said. “I’ve always had this sense of belonging somewhere else, wherever I am. You know – something I’m missing.”
“There was a writer who really helped me when I felt like that,” I said. “He was called C.S. Lewis. He wrote: ‘If I find in myself a desire that no experience in this world can satisfy, the probable explanation is I was made for another world.’”
Her eyes flickered with some sort of inner recognition.
“I think you may be searching for God,” I said. “Do you have a religious philosophy?”
“Not one,” she said, somewhat disapprovingly. “You can’t have just one. Who is wise enough to say one is worth more than another?” She continued, warming to the conversation, “Oh, I’ve lots of beliefs, bits and pieces blended together, but not just one.”
“Look at her heart,” the Lord whispered to me. “She’s hungry, so hungry. I am the bread of life.”
I knew that Victoria was typical of Europe’s postmodern worshippers and searchers of truth who openly acknowledge the confusion inside, the heart hunger that won’t quit, and the lifestyle that won’t satisfy. They have a yearning too deep for words and too insistent to be ignored.
“Until you find the one true God, you will always feel there’s a hole in your heart,” I told her. Then before she could say anything I asked her, “Which of all the philosophical and religious beliefs you hold has helped you the most? What is it that has led you towards one truth that has seemed to be truer than other truths?”
“Astrology,” she answered without hesitation.
“You know,” I said, “there were some incredibly brilliant astrologers who lived 2,000 years ago and who, at great cost to themselves, took a long journey one Christmas, to a manger in a town called Bethlehem. They knelt down and worshipped a baby boy they found, lying in a cattle stall in a bale of hay.”
I looked at Victoria and said, “Victoria, you have to decide who that baby is. They believed He was God, the God of all gods in heaven and on earth. They acknowledged Him as the Lord of their lives. Their astrology led them to that baby. That baby grew up and led them to heaven.”
I looked at Victoria and said, “You have to meet Him at the manger! You have to figure out who the baby is.”
“Do you think there’s hope for me?” she asked me quietly.
“Oh yes!” I said. “I believe you are going to find what you have been looking for all your life. But Victoria, the Word of God says, ‘You will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart.’ You have to make this a priority.” I knew she would.
All of us have to meet Him at the manger. We have to decide who this baby is. Is He just the founder of one more religion in the world? Or just another Jewish child, born in extraordinary times in an extraordinary place in an extraordinary way? Or is He the North for the compass of our searching hearts? Some of us have to bring our long-held religious beliefs to kneel at the manger, just like the astrologers (or kings) brought theirs so long ago. If it is true that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself,” then all other religions have to meet Him at the manger, kneel down and submit to Christ.
“O dear Lord,” I asked Him, “Show her who You are!”
I believe I heard Him say, “I will.”
Who do you need to be open to sharing the gospel with this Christmas season?