“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,
and will call him Immanuel.”
Isaiah 7:14,17 (NIV)
When I first met him in 1966, he was in his eighties. For over 60 years he had preached the unsearchable riches of Christ. I recall vividly a visit I made to him when he lay dying in a palliative care hospital. I prayed as always for some verse to leave with the individual being visited. I did not find any verse that seemed appropriate to the man in such seclusion from the singing of the birds, the sunshine on his face and the birds singing God’s praise. All he heard was the rattle of bed pans and sad people calling out for the nurse or a spouse long gone.
What could I bring to this man who lay in pain and was so isolated from life? Suddenly our verse for today sprang to mind and I knew instantly what to say in greeting. I quietly entered the room so as to not disturb the other patients and saw him lying quietly with a very serious expression on his face. I knew his pain was not being managed well and so I interpreted his facial expression as a determination to be brave in a sad situation.
As I drew near his bed I whispered, “Immanuel!” Instantly his face broke into a smile, perhaps even a grin as he recognized my voice and he said, “Oh, yes, the ever present God from Whose presence I cannot and will not flee.”
Then he started telling me about Immanuel and how precious the Lord’s presence was to him. He commenced a mini-sermon on the omnipresent God who has made us and redeemed us and is always with His people.
I had gone to seek to be a blessing and it turned into a session on pastoral theology for my eternal benefit. I have never lost the vision of that visit. It stands tall among the thousands of pastoral visits I have made in my 47 years of pastoral work.
Do you have that comforting peace of heart that the word Immanuel brings to God’s people? Perhaps you need to draw near in prayer and call on the Lord to make His marvellous presence known to you. Only through Jesus can we come near God. Our Saviour taught us that He was the only way to the Father (John 14:6).
This is why we pray “in Jesus’ name” as we conclude our prayers. We are thereby confessing that Jesus wants us to have what we asked for in the prayer. So come to the Father in Jesus’ name and ask for the needed help to face the day. You may be spending your life flat on your back like that elderly minister I visited so long ago or you may look at life from a wheelchair. Wherever you are, whatever your need, come to the One Who said in Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Come and come today.