God With Us


When we realize God is revealed in us, it should change our relationships with even the difficult people.

When I was young, long before most of you were born, I loved watching television Christmas specials: Perry Como, Andy Williams…and though there were plenty of songs about chestnuts and winter wonderlands, they always had sacred songs as well, often closing with the spine-tingling O Holy Night, where you were reminded of the holiness of Christmas.

This year I watched a few and thought how different this world has become. Michael Buble’s 1st Christmas special did not have one sacred song. The New York Rockefeller special with the lighting of the tree became pornographic and had to be turned off. No fear. No sense of the holiness of God.

But before I get too critical of the secular world, who does not know Jesus, let me turn this searing light on myself.

Early in our marriage, Steve and I came to love this simple Christmas chorus:

Emmanuel, Emmanuel,
His name is called
God with us,
Revealed in us,
His name is called

Emmanuel, Emmanuel,
Your name is called
God with us
Revealed in us,
Your name is called

When we realize that God is not only with us, but revealed in us, it should change our relationships with even the difficult people. Last Sunday after church, doing dishes with my dear daughter-in-law, Julie, I told her I had an ethical dilemma. I told her of a new neighbor who was a believer, but whom I perceived might be difficult, and whom I feared could consume me. She had been calling and e-mailing frequently, asking to get together. Frankly, I was afraid if I opened the door I might be swallowed up. I was looking for support and agreement from Julie, but I didn’t get it. She said, “Mom—don’t you think Jesus would have you be open to her? Just be honest with her about your time. Set boundaries—but don’t close the door.” I protested, but Julie was firm, repeating her stand.

So, I got home, called the neighbor, and told her I had an hour. She came right over, and the poor lady put her watch on the coffee table so she wouldn’t stay more than an hour. She is a widow, talkative, and I asked God to help me listen, to be His love, yet I was antsy. Obedient on the outside but shutting up my compassions on the inside. But then God began to break through. She had been talking about Joel Olstein and how much she loved him, and I realized she had been under false teaching. She suddenly stopped talking and asked me if I liked him too. She was flustered when I said I did not, but she also was very open to finding out why. She listened. Then she told me she was trying very hard to live for Jesus so that she could be in heaven one day with her husband.

SUDDENLY GOD’S COMPASSION FOR THIS WOMAN WELLED UP IN ME. I stopped her, said her name, and pled with her to listen to the assurances Christ gives us. God was with us. She wept. Then suddenly she saw her hour was up and jumped up to get her coat and respect my boundary.


I was not fearing God. I was not being the presence of God to my neighbor.

I was shutting up my compassions from one in need.

God with us. Revealed in us. Our Lord is called Emmanuel.


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