God Does Things Backwards

5Mary was engaged to Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby, 6and while they were there, 7she gave birth to her first-born son. She dressed him in baby clothed and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn. – Luke 2:5-7 (CEV)

Some of you may thing that title is almost sacrilegious. But I want to ask you: “How would you choose to invade your enemy’s kingdom and challenge his greatest weapons?” I don’t know about you, but I expect that babies would have little part in my battle plan.

Isaiah tells us:

8The LORD says: “My thoughts and my ways are not like yours.
9Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
my thoughts and my ways are higher than yours. – Isaiah 55:8 & 9 (CEV)

We immediately think of higher, loftier, and more obvious. Bigger bombs, larger armies, more obvious miracles.

This is the Christmas season, and you can see God in action. Of course, you can see God in action every day. But look into that manger, and you can see God performing the greatest, most powerful miracle of all, the one that wins the battle, defeats the foe, and brings joy and victory to each one of us. What is it that you see? It’s a baby!

Nothing extraordinary that we can see. The prophet tells us “no beauty that we should desire him!”

I was reminded of how God works when I read about Pipa toads. Now you likely haven’t heard of these toads. In his book “Three Tickets to Adventure” Gerald Durrell, a zoo collector, tells about finding them in Guyana, South America. He says they look like plain brown toads that have been run over by a very heavy steam roller.

A peculiarity of these toads is that the young hatch and grow from tadpole to toad in pockets on the mother’s back. They then break out of the little pockets, and set forth into the world, a tiny, fragile fragment of life. Gerald Durrell’s pipa toads chose to hatch in a kerosene tin in the hold of a ship as he was taking his collection from Guyana to England. As he watched these tiny scraps of life, sailors from the ship’s crew came to join him. In Durrell’s words, ” . . . round this tin squatted the group of ordinary seamen, reasonably hard-living and, one would have thought, unemotional men whose every word was prefaced by a procreative expletive and whose only interests in life (if you judged by their conversation) were drink, gambling, and women. Yet those hardened and unsentimental examples of the human race crouched round that kerosene tin at two o’clock in the morning, cold and uncomfortable, watching with incredulous wonder the beginnings of life for the baby toads, talking occasionally in hushed whispers as though they were in church.”

Durrell continues to describe the attention given to the small amphibians by the sailors as they guarded the kerosene tin from other members of the crew who wanted to watch. Small, nearly helpless, perhaps one could even say ugly, the little toads were able to reach out and touch hearts. Indeed, I would suggest that these men were in church, learning directly from the hand of the creator, the God who has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. Indeed, the God who does things backwards . . . from our point of view!

Have you had a hard time seeing God work lately? Perhaps you’re looking for the wrong things. The God who entered the manger so long ago is still ready to enter hearts and change lives today. Will you participate in communion, in sharing the body and blood of Jesus today? Perhaps you will feel God, through His Holy Spirit coming near and touching you, changing you, healing and renewing you.

Are you having a hard time hearing God? Do you think he doesn’t speak often enough? Try turning down the noise. It’s possible he’s talking in a still small voice, while you’re listening for a shout.

I believe God works special miracles. I believe he acts in power. But every day, every hour, every moment, we live by his constant, unchanging power in the world he created for us. And if he can’t get through to us with that big miracle, perhaps we need a toad that looks like it’s been run over by a very heavy steamroller to catch our attention, soften our hearts, and quiet our strident voices.

Is he talking to you?

Why don’t you let him in? He’ll lie on a bed of hay if that’s all you have. If you think you’re too unimportant, too unlovable, remember, he does things backwards. He doesn’t see you the way the world does-the way you see yourself.

Let him touch you.