She had no idea what to expect when her little fingers deftly began tearing away the bright Christmas wrapping paper. In seconds, a smile swept over her face as she beheld the gift from Grammy, her great-grandmother. In just a few more seconds, she cradled the doll while her parents removed a couple of bottles and an outfit from the box. It was, I believe, love at first sight, at least for Miss Hazel.
Last Friday, Regina and I picked up Hazel so she could spend the weekend with us. OK, a more accurate way to put it is that we picked her up so we could spend the weekend with her, but either way, she came to Fort Valley. The minute we saw Hazel, right after scooping her up for a hug, she had to show us her baby, now named Maddie, who would, naturally, be our guest for the weekend as well. Hey, the more the merrier!
But, Hazel, informed us, Maddie was sick, and she was convinced that I should perform a prompt and thorough examination and then pronounce both a diagnosis and a treatment plan. I'm a preacher, not a physician, so I started out by counting Maddie's toes and fingers. I peered in her ears, gently bent her knees, and was about to listen to her heartbeat, albeit without a stethoscope. That's when I heard Hazel as she tenderly stroked Maddie's arms.
"I right here, Baby," she said. "OK? I right here, Maddie."
I glanced Hazel's way. She looked up at me and commanded, "Say, 'I right here,' Hub."
"Say, 'I right here,'" she repeated. "Say, 'I right here, Baby.'"
It hit me like a ton of bricks. Hazel was repeating the very same words she'd heard over and over in her almost three years on earth. How many times had her Mommy and Daddy offered her the promise of their presence? How many times had they reassured her that she wouldn't face a trial or tribulation alone?
"I'm right here, Hazel," they've whispered when her tummy hurt.
"I'm right here," when the nurse or doctor brandished a syringe and a big, long needle.
"I'm right here," when the room was really dark and the shadows scary.
"I'm right here," when the sidewalk tripped her and skinned her tender knee.
"I'm right here," when her throat was scratchy and a fever tormented her.
There really is no better medicine, sometimes, than "I'm right here."
Guess who knows that to be true? God, that's who.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, ESV) That's what we just celebrated at Christmas, the coming of God in flesh into this world. He showed up and assured us of His presence.
"I'm right here," He proclaims when the world turns against us.
"I'm right here," when we journey through the "valley of the shadow of death."
"I'm right here," when others betray us.
"I'm right here," when the doctor shares a grim diagnosis.
"I'm right here," when we've lost our way.
"I'm right here," when He hung dying on that Cross so that we could be forgiven, redeemed, saved to the uttermost.
Jesus said it this way - "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20, ESV)
Always and everywhere, the believer in Christ is held in the palm of God's hand. He's right here, no matter where here is. No matter where, no matter what . . .