Enlarging the Meaning of “Emmanuel”
I woke up early on the morning of December 9th with the first line of a poem in my mind. I knew the Lord had given me the thought, so I got up and went to my computer. What followed was several hours of the unfolding of the following poem.
I thought the poem was simply to be one of my gifts to family members, as this was something I had done on other occasions. However, as Christmas passed and the New Year arrived, I began to pray, as I usually do, for a word or theme for the New Year. Nothing seemed to stand out. Then, as Lent drew near, I realized that the title of the Christmas poem, “Emmanuel,” was the word for me for 2023.
Of course, “Emmanuel” is translated “God with us,” expressing the amazing reality of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. This realization has long been an important part of my Christian experience.
But, when I looked again at the direction that the poem had taken, I realized that the Lord intended for me to make the message within it a part of my regular spiritual practice. He was illustrating for me, the possibility of my own encounters with Him, reminiscent of His encounter with Peter on the beach at the Sea of Galilee after His resurrection.
I’ve begun to visualize myself in this scenario when taking to Him my confessions of worry, doubt, grief, fear, failure or anything that is weighing on me. By the act of laying those burdens on His fire to be fuel for whatever meal He is preparing for me in any given moment, I am restored to faith, and fruitfulness, and reminded of His unfailing love, and His promise to never leave me.
My lord and Savior dwells in me; Emmanuel is His name.
He builds a fire within my soul and sets it all aflame.
He calls to me to “Come and Dine!”
At first, I join Him there.
But filled, I turn to other cares; the flame begins to wane.
And as the ember light grows dim, my heart grows faint with fear.
I long for warmth beside His fire; for food with One so dear.
Again, His still, small voice persists,
“Come. See what I’ve prepared.”
The table is already laid with delicacies rare.
“Come. Bring more fuel to feed the fire. Come. Lay aside your care.
Your heavy load place on the coals to be consumed there.
Now eat my bread and drink my wine,
the meal that I provide.
Feed on my words and fill yourself with food that satisfies.
“And as we dine your dross will burn, and light your heart will be.
And by our fellowship you’ll have new light by which to see.
So make your way with burdens pressed
to feed the fire and keep it lit.
To meet me often here to feast, and rest upon my breast.”
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