The Cry Of A Child (The Gift of Christmas)
Dr. Mike Murphy
Faces everywhere in my mind as I remember back to that day, Each direction I looked, there was always a face staring back at me. For all the years I had lived in this small town, I had never seen it so busy. More people than places. More demands than this town could ever have to offer. A place that was normally all but too quiet, was suddenly in wish of nothing but a little silence.
As a merchant, you would think all those faces would have thrilled me. The opportunity to make a fortune in just a few days. Able to set the price of the bread I sold at whatever I desired, and knowing that those desires would have easily been met. But at some point, the desire for a little quiet became greater than the desire for the greed could ever be.
Who would have thought a census would have caused all this confusion, bringing so much chaos to the little town I was born in, and still to this day, call home. A town that was so crowded, so ill-prepared for that census, that people were left sleeping on the streets and looking any and everywhere for just a bite to eat. And I can still remember, that as the day turned to night, the quiet did not return. We were still unable to escape the constant chaos that surrounded us. I remember how I prayed for that quiet, calling out to Jehovah for just a small time of silence so I could at least get a few moments of sleep.
It was as I tried so hard to sleep, that one sound arose above all the chaos. The sound of an infant crying, that was coming from somewhere close to me. So vividly I still remember to this day, there was something in the voice of that child’s cries that overcame me. Something in his sound that shook the very soul of me, and drew me to his voice.
As I exited my door, I could hear the cries coming from the cellar of my neighbor’s home. Among the shelter for their animals each night, came a cry that even silenced those animals. Sounds of a cry so loud I could not escape it. But sounds of a cry with such familiarity, I found myself without a desire to flee. With each bellow, with each shout, with each whimper, I was drawn closer to it. As if my body was being controlled by my soul, and my soul longed to be closer to in the presence of those cries.
As I entered the cellar, I could see a young couple holding a newborn child. A couple, whose faces I barely saw, as my eyes focused on that child’s face. Even if I had wanted to try, I could not have taken my eyes off of him. My heart was on a string that was drawn to him. A string that must have also been attached to and pulling at my legs, as without even realizing it, I was on my knees before him. And as I tried to rise, I soon heard the voices of others. Shephards, who had come in from the fields, also finding their way to those cries. Cries, that left them without words. Only praise, as they proclaimed that angels had called them to this place. To come to his presence, so they could see the fulfillment of all the Lord had promised.
As time stood still that night, I suddenly realized I had found the silence and peace that I had sought, in the midst of that child’s cries. A silence, that I still remember so well, that left me more awake than ever.
As the days passed, I would often hear the cries of that child. Cries that often came from a room in my neighbor’s home. Cries that continued to leave me just as amazed as they had that first night. It was one night, as I heard those cries, that the faces I saw drawn to my small town, once again amazed me. Faces of those who held worldly power in their hands greater than almost any man could know. But men of prominence whose knees bowed in front of this child just as quickly as my own knees had given way. I watched as they worship him. Men, who had been honored this world over, humbling themselves before him. Placing the most expensive of gifts at his feet.
And as I watched them leave that night, I witnessed that young couple also preparing to leave. Gone in an instant, without a moment of notice, I heard the cries of that child fade into the distance.
Soon after that night, my village again heard cries. But this time, the cries I heard were not those of a child, but the screaming cries of their mothers and fathers. Cries of horror, as Herod’s troops stormed into my little town, and killed every young boy that my town knew. Every young child but one, the one of the cries I had heard fading into the distance the night before.
Years later, I would finally get the chance to hear the child I had heard cry, speak. Speaking words that left me just as silent as the cries had that first night. Words that challenged me, words that changed me, words that brought hope to me. Words that the priests, and the people of our nation, were just not yet prepared to hear. Words that soon found him being handed over to the Romans, so his words would not be heard again.
On that day, it was me whose cries you could hear, as I watched them look to beat the life out of him. As I watch them nail him to a cross, so they could take all life from him. And as I stood at that cross in the silence of my tears, it was him I heard cry once again. Crying out so loud, with such passion, for the Lord to forgive all of those who had done this to him.
As I heard his cries that day, my mind drifted back to the first time I had heard him crying. And as I heard him cry out for the last time, I realized. It was not his cries I had so often heard. It had been Him so lovingly calling out, as He was heard crying for me.
May the cries of that manger fill your life this Christmas!