The Rest of His Presence
by Robby Higginbottom
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Where would we be without the rest of the story?
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” Without the rest of the story, we’re lost in space, wondering how the drama in a distant galaxy has anything to do with us.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Without the rest of the story, we’re left hanging, wondering why it was so good and so bad.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” Without the rest of the story, we’re stuck at the crossroads, not sure where the paths lead and why we would choose one or the other.
Without the rest of the story, we have a setting, but not a story.
Imagine where we would be without the rest of the story in Scripture. A favored son is sold by his brothers into slavery in Egypt. The people of God cry out for rescue from the oppression of Pharaoh. A shepherd boy walks out to the battlefield to confront a giant. The Lord sends His people into exile in a foreign land. After speaking through His prophets for centuries, the Lord goes silent. If this were all we had, how depressing would the Scriptures be?
Christmas is the dawn of the rest of the story. For those suffering injustice, the Lord appears “to proclaim the year of [His] favor”. For those wasting away in their chains, He comes “to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18). For those overwhelmed by the size of their enemies, the Lord arrives as a Champion. For those who feel far off, He draws near. And for those feeling the Lord’s silence, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). The rest of the story begins in a humble manger in a modest town, but it doesn’t end there. The story unfolds like a series of mountain ranges. Just when we think we’ve reached one summit, we catch a glimpse of another mountain…and another…and another. From the manger…to the dusty roads of Palestine…to a rugged cross…to an empty tomb…to an ascension, an enthronement, and the sending of the Spirit. The track of redemption runs through the centuries, all the way to us. And if we believe what the Lord says, the rest of the story—the part we’ve yet to experience—is enough to render the sufferings of this present moment a “light momentary affliction” (2 Corinthians 4:17).