Day 6: In the Shadows, Emmanuel

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

(In Day 1, He was the light of deliverance’s promise flickering in the darkness. In Day 2, He was the Shepherd leading the way around winding paths. In Day 3, He was the God who chose to dwell with us to the journey’s end. In Day 4, He was the King who reclaimed us from the curse of death. In Day 5, He was the key to the door and the Door itself.)

The world labored and groaned with the weight of its sin, aching for a deliverer as the Israelites did in Egypt centuries before. We could only take so much more before we would surely die. We waited, pained and pining, wandering and wasting away in the shadow of death, wrestling our demons in the dark, clamoring for light, for an Emmanuel to pierce the darkness and bring us peace. And true to His word, though not in our own way, He came.

To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:77-79)

He came to deliver, to lead the way, to enable us to walk with His presence enveloping us, to rescue us from the curse of death, to open the door so we could walk into the freedom of His light. He still comes; He still hears our cries. He’s still Emmanuel when we whisper our desperate, monosyllabic prayers in the darkness when no one else is around to hear – He comes to dwell with us in our shadows and carry us through until the dayspring rises in the morning to give us light. He dwells with us and whispers back, “It isn’t real; it’s only a shadow. The light will soon be here.”

C.S. Lewis, in his book The Last Battle, put it this way:

“There was  a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are–as you used to call it in the Shadowlands–dead.  The term is over:  the holidays have begun.  The dream is ended:  this is the morning.”

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page:  now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read:  which goes on forever:  in which every chapter is better than the one before.” —HarperCollins: New York, 1956

He comes in our shadows and calls us into the real story – the better story – so we can walk in the morning of His light and love. And the story He writes is better than any story any man could pen; it is written on our minds and hearts for all of time and for all of eternity.

Today, as we await the Big Day, wandering in the shadows and carrying our candles lit by hope, let us rejoice. Emmanuel has come. Emmanuel is here. Emmanuel will soon put to flight every shadow that surrounds us. Emmanuel hears and will respond. The dream has ended; this is the morning.

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