Yesterday on my way to my daughter's basketball game I was in a car accident. Sandwiched between cleaning the house, making food, and hosting a Christmas get-together for my mother-in-law on the tenth anniversary of her husband's death I was not at the basketball game, but hunkered next to the road while the police officer wrote up the incident.
This time I was not at fault. Someone pulled in front of me and I did not have enough time to stop. This time.
As I sat on the side of the road I remembered taking two friends home from a Christian women's event a month ago. We were talking and all of the sudden it occurred to me that I had gone through a red light.
"Did I just do that?" I asked.
I had. And because it was ten something on a Friday night, or more truthfully, by God's grace, no other cars were around. No one was injured. I wasn't ticketed. No one except the three of us knew.
Yesterday when the police officer brought my license and insurance card back he apologized and told me this would take a while because the woman who hit me had neither license nor insurance.
My heart ached a bit. As we sat face to face for a few minutes, my van firmly planted in the side of her van, I saw the small child sitting behind her. A few minutes later I was on the side of the road listening to Chris Tomlin talk about his Christmas album "Adore."
Then it all came together in my mind.
That woman behind me was in a hopeless situation. A police officer with flashing lights sat behind her and a woman with a broken bumper and dangling headlight sat in front of her. I testified that she had done wrong, the police officer witnessed her wrongdoing and she admitted it. By all accounts she was the guilty party.
There was no way out.
I have lived in grace for so long I almost missed the horrific feeling that woman must have felt. But I am her. I am hopelessly unable to be "good enough" to buy my way out of the state I am in. By nature I cannot keep God's commandments. Everyone pointing at me could tell of the damage I've made.
That's why the miracle in the manger is such a relief. If it was just an ordinary baby, it wouldn't be worth celebrating 2000 years later. But Emmanuel, God with us, is altogether different. God taking on flesh, living the perfect life I couldn't and then taking the punishment I deserve on himself is a whole lot like someone in a brand new car, fully licensed and insured, with a spotless driving record pulling up next to the police officer and saying, "Forget what she's done. Blame me. I'll pay the consequences. Let her go."
The miracle is not in how great our year has been, or how much we have, or even who is around us. The miracle is that someone loved us so much, he was willing to live and die for us.
Emmanuel. Thank God I'm not alone in this situation. God was and is with us, and he has made it right.