We have four children. When our older children were born, we were living in Dallas just minutes from the hospital. With our younger kids, we had moved to rural Indiana, and were now a forty-minute drive from the hospital. Probably not a big deal–but as a nurse, the long drive made me slightly nervous.
We’ve all heard stories of not making it to the hospital in time (my own mother was born in the car in the hospital parking lot)–but I’d much rather not have one of those stories as my own. A panicky precipitous labor far away from the comfort of the hospital conjured fears of worse-case scenarios including injury or death to people I treasure most.
Admittedly, this is slightly irrational. And a function of knowing too much about what can go wrong coupled with too little experience with all that usually goes well with births at home, etc.
Every year our family watches The Nativity Story. It depicts Mary and Joseph (and their friends and relatives) leading up to the birth of Jesus. It’s so well done, and we love it.
It’s stressful. In multiple places. But probably the most stressful part for me is when Joseph enters Bethlehem with Mary in labor, and begins to realize that there’s no vacancy. His pace quickens, his voice gets louder and more desperate–and my pulse races every time (even though I know what is going to happen).
There’s no room! Really? No room? For the Creator of the Universe? No room?!
Timothy Keller notes that Our Lord experiences “no room” forsakenness on our behalf so that He can promise us: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
“Christmas, of course, is just the beginning of the story of how God came to save us. Jesus will have to go to the cross. Yet the whole of Jesus’ life and salvation is here in embryonic form, foreshadowing what will happen. He came to stand in our place, to pay the penalty of our sin, to take what we deserve. Where, in light of our sin against God and our neighbor, do we deserve to be? Out in the cold and dark. Jesus was born in the cold and dark stable, but it was only a foreshadowing. At the end of his life, Jesus will cry out, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matthew 27:46). On the cross he was thrown out into the spiritual darkness so that we could be brought into the warmth and light of God’s presence.”Timothy Keller, Hidden Christmas, 23-24.