Emmanuel; God with US

We hear the name Emmanuel often during the Christmas season. It brings memories of Christmas Eve service and looking out your window while snow falls quietly on that Silent Night. If you have been a Christian for a while, you know what that name means: God with us.

The Christmas definition of Emmanuel means that Jesus came, He was born in a manger, and He lived amongst us until He died for us, rose again, and returned to the Father. The Father He came to reveal.

I think of God with us, and I smile. Honestly, in the past, I smiled at the sentiment and not the reality of the Christmas definition. What does it mean that God is with us?

Does it mean that He is with us, like when the scripture reminds us of the truth that He will never leave or forsake us? That he is with us even until the end of the age? That nothing can separate us from His love? Yes. Yes. And Yes.

It is a comforting thought that He is with me, that He is with us.

As we approach the holiday season, I began to think more deeply about this truth. I would like to say it’s because I was sipping hot cocoa contemplating deep spiritual matters, but I can’t. The truth I was facing was a fearful walk towards a possible answered prayer that I wasn’t so sure would, in fact, be answered. I was hoping to be pregnant. A monthly journey I had been on for over a year. With each passing month that does not reveal a pink plus sign, a little more hope is lost, and a little more fear creeps in.

This month was different. At the beginning of the month, there was great expectation that God would finally answer my and my husband’s prayers. My spirit was full of hope, and I asked God again. I asked Him boldly and passionately. I asked Him confidently and in humility. I was certain God’s time was this time.

As I was praying, the Holy Spirit brought to mind a story in the book of Mark. One of the religious leaders, Jarius, who had asked Jesus to go to his home and heal his sick daughter. I thought to myself, this is an odd passage regarding a prayer to conceive, but I stayed with Him in that moment, and He continued to reveal more.

A little backstory. Jarius and Jesus get interrupted along the way by the woman with the issue of blood. After, Jarius receives word that his daughter is dead, and he should no longer bother Jesus with his problem. Jesus said to him, “Do not fear, only believe. She is not dead; she is only sleeping.” They continue their journey to Jarius’ house.

I thought, Jesus, what does this have to do with getting pregnant? But, in what I thought was obedience to the word He gave me, I walked out those last two weeks before I would see that beautiful pink plus sign on that little white stick, saying to myself, “She’s not dead; she’s only sleeping,” through every cramp, I felt and negative thought that crossed my mind, As fear would creep in, I would remind myself not to fear but only believe. I was proud of what I considered to be gritty and great faith.

God revealed more and more, and I was suddenly confronted with another truth. I was believing in the answer – not believing in Jesus. Yes, I was praying with Jesus, and yes, I was expecting this to come through Him, but I was walking to a destination. I was walking with expectation to the arrival of my desired outcome, all the while missing the moment in the journey with Jesus.

Jarius had to walk with Jesus to see his daughter healed. There would be great celebration and appreciation when he would find his daughter sleeping and very much alive. He still had to walk there with Jesus, literally. The fact that Jesus can raise the dead and heal the sick is a given, but Jarius didn’t know that until he journeyed with Jesus.

What did they talk about? How did it feel? Was Jesus comforting him all the way there? Did Jarius have questions? What was the journey like? Was he just using Jesus as a means to an end? He was a religious leader. Those were the people who wanted to kill Jesus. Did he respect Him as God or simply as a man with a reputation for healing?

Emmanuel, God with us. God with me and me with God. I was walking with Jesus towards a result I so desperately wanted. A result I asked Him for. It has been over a year, and I have heard over and over again that it is dead with every negative result I receive. What have I been saying on my journey with Jesus? Is he just a means to an end for me, too? I’ve been asking, “Why? Am I too old?, This is Your will, isn’t it? Should I be eating more iron? Should I lose more weight first?” I am walking with Jesus. He is with me. Why are these the questions I am asking?  They are rooted in fear, and my hope has been rooted in the outcome rather than Jesus.

As I took the pregnancy test and saw it was negative again, God birthed something much greater in me. A revelation that brought freedom and hope.

How can I be walking towards an answer when I am walking with the answer? How can I be walking towards hope when I am walking with hope? How can we be walking towards healing when we are walking with the healer? How can we be walking towards provision when we are walking with the provider? How can we be walking towards comfort when we are walking with the comforter? How can we be walking towards victory when we are walking with the Victorious One?

For me and you, we already have the answer: Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus is with us, and as Christians, we are with Him. We are not waiting for anything when we realize He is everything we need, and He is already with us. We can live in the tension of right now and not yet. We can continue to as, seek, and knock. We can continue to live with Jesus,  not in theory but in reality, in EVERY situation because He IS Emmanuel.

Lauren McNeely has appreciated the value of the written word since her youth. She enjoyed drafting poems to help process the world around her as a young girl, writing in her daily prayer journal to do the same, and writing a children’s book to commemorate her niece’s first birthday. Using words to express a feeling or new insight has been a helpful resource throughout the years. Lauren has a ravenous curiosity, and her favorite question to Jesus in their prayer time is “Why?” Her love of writing and the desire to know what is on the heart and mind of God has never left her short of topics to write about. She enjoys sharing these revelations with anyone who will listen, but mostly with her amazing husband, Eric. She is also quickly learning that her two-year-old son Ari has the exact inquisitive nature and shares in his mommy’s love of the question, why?!