Recently, my son completed a coding course for a boot camp that he is taking in web and application design.
The coding course brought back nightmares for both my son and I from his Grade 11 math class where we valiantly fought through quadratic equations and, admittedly, came out scarred. To this day, the mere mention of the word “quadratic equations” will send a shrill down my son’s back.
Thankfully, this time was different. Coding initially presented the same seemingly insurmountable challenge; it claimed an easy victory. Shortly thereafter, however, something changed.
As when the eyes dilate in the dark, my son noticed that what he had thought was an unscalable wall was not a wall at all. He began to see it as an adventure; a mountain, meant to be climbed, scaled, and conquered.
While he did not have the resources to begin his trek, this change in perspective was a major feat. And very slowly but surely, breakthrough came. In the end, the initially discouraging defeat gave way to victory and, most importantly, a new perspective on life. By the end, he was dreaming of coding and was analyzing our family discussions based on how he would code a program. Everything became code to him.
On Sunday, we will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. While most will enjoy time with family and friends, as well as participate in the largest exchange of gifts for the year, others will stop and reflect on God’s entrance into human existence. Jesus, born as a helpless child, to a young teenage girl, from the remotest of villages in the smallest of countries, and who was given the name Immanuel, “God with us”!
Understanding who God is, is for most of us, an experience a lot like my son and I’s experience with quadratic equations. At first, we don’t even know the difficulty that lays ahead of us and after much frustration, we walk away defeated; never again to approach the treacherous path.
G.K. Chesterton once wrote “the Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.” How fitting those words are.
Contemplating who God is will often leave us feeling that we lack the resources and abilities to meet the standards of a holy God, much like facing an unscalable wall. However, the birth of Jesus Christ transforms our perspective. Instead of feeling alienated by an incomprehensible God, we are now comforted by the reality that God is with “us,” born into the same challenging circumstances we are.
The birth and life of Jesus Christ negates the idea that life should be a cake walk and affirms the truth that there are difficulties that every person will face regardless of their circumstances. It also offers us hope that instead of defeat there is victory. Victory that comes when we change our perspective on the character of God.
Unfortunately, the default view of God is that of a remote being that judges our inadequacies and parades them publicly despite our inability to overcome them. Jesus Christ is, however, the counter narrative to the greatest fraudulent narrative of all time, namely, that God is not good. And Jesus is the very expression of God the Father presented to each of us in a manner that we can relate to.
God is telling us that we are not to focus on our inadequacies but instead we should have confidence in His abilities. We are all faced with a wall in this life which is engraved with the words “you are not (good) enough.” But Jesus reveals to us what lies before us is rather an adventure, a mountain we are destined to trek while enjoying its breathtaking views.
It is only when we realize that we do not have the resources to begin the trek that we can turn to the comfort and necessity of God being with us. With this, we experience freedom and begin the trek.
We need not, nor should we attempt the perilous journey of our own merits. We are meant to follow the One that has already made the trek and now comes alongside us. His name is Jesus — God with us.