Standing there, I see it. At the end of the checkout lane, two rows of heartbreak stretch long across a bulletin board.
Silent, I take it in. On every sheet, a name. An age. A black-and-white photo. The location last seen and, toward the top, date of birth.
They catch my eye, those words black and bold, trumpeted atop every page. “Have you seen this child?
“This child.” I’m scanning the faces, reading names, checking dates. Over here, two siblings gone missing since spring. Over there, a teenager disappearing in March. This one’s just 7, a Michigan beauty. And that one from Chicago, his grin is infectious.
I can scarce fathom, standing frozen in place, what heartache’s encompassed in these two forlorn rows. Behind every face, all those eyes is a story. A story that, if told, would put us, the sheltered, straight down to the floor, weeping aloud. For a child to go missing, what heart can bear that?
Behind me, cash registers ring up the purchases of harried shoppers. The music of the season, it plays, and outdoors a bell ringer calls cheer with a hearty, “Merry Christmas!”
“Have you seen this child?”
In this high and holy season, I’m thinking of the Babe, hope of the world; the poor, fallen, sin-sick world. I’m looking at them, and my thoughts turn to Him.
“Have you seen this child?”
Oh, have you seen this Child, the baby of Bethlehem? Son of Mary and Joseph? Have you seen him, Redeemer foretold and promised Messiah? Have you seen him? It’s gotten awfully dark down here, and we need a light. We need the Light. Need hope, need healing. We need Jesus.
In the whole of the Gospel story, perhaps nothing is so astonishing or unlikely as this, that the eternal God chose jars of clay to be his home. That he chose to join us here, wearing flesh, blood and bone, is a mystery. That he chose to live forever within the human heart is amazing. It’s grace. Amazing grace.
We who’ve said the “yes,” who’ve opened the door at his knock, we carry within us the spirit of the living God. For in the willing heart, he makes his home. And from that moment, everything — everything — is changed.
Or it should be. Unfortunately, too many of his children still cling to old ways. We hold grudges, keeping score. Live for self, advancing “us.” We wallow in fear, refusing to trust. And we compartmentalize the Child, giving him just so much room and no more.
In a world desperate for love, dying for hope, longing for joy, the Child has been hidden. In churches, fighting, dissension and inflicting of wounds. In homes, lack of teaching, of modeling his truth. And in hearts, love grown cold, apathy, despair. Lord, help us! How we need the Child.
“Have you seen this Child?”
Have you seen him in your town? Is he welcome in the streets? In city hall? In your business? Are there Christ sightings in the actions of neighborly kindness? If not, then you. You be the one to carry the Child. To meet a need. To lend a hand. You can share the Child.
Have you seen him in your church? Does the love of the Lord dwell there in your pews? May people come just as they are to find help, hope and healing? Is it safe to be messy? If not, then you. You be the one to live like the Child. To extend grace to sinners. To nurture the weakling. You can share the Child.
Have you seen him at home? Is it marked by his peace? Are you teaching your children, “line upon line?” Do you make him the center ‘round which all revolves? If not, then start. You start. Yes, you can. In your home, you can show the Child.
Have you seen him in your heart? Do you live in the warm, clear light of his presence? Are your thoughts ordered in peace, steps guided by him? Do you know he is yours, you are his and all’s well? If not, then you can for he’s calling for you.
The Child has come. How I pray that you’ve seen him. For those who, seeing, have made room in the inn, the best is yet to come. Both here and then after, the future’s secure.
For life here on earth, we have his provision. His love, help and comfort are promised to us. For the life that comes after, no tongue can describe it. No mind can imagine what glory awaits those who have seen, truly seen, this Child. Merry Christmas.
Rhonda Schrock and her family send the warmest of Christmas greetings to you and yours. She’s continually grateful for your faithful readership and kind words. She expects plenty of action in the year that’s to come and invites you to stay tuned to the ongoing adventures of this one, small, caffeinated American mom.