Love makes people do strange things. What would you do for love and where would you draw the line?
Introducing his recent Christmas film – The Christmas Candle, best-selling author Max Lucado tells this story – His daughter was tinkering on a grand piano one breezy afternoon at home, serenading her pet hamster perched on the piano’s case. Apparently bored and oblivious to the affection directed at it, the tiny hamster lost his footing and fell right into the strings and got stuck between the treble and bass bridge.
If Max’s daughter was inspired by the Hamster on a Piano craze, she clearly didn’t consider the risks – her beloved pet could be crushed between the pedal rods or sliced by the strings to the sound of a G chord. The alarmed little girl lifted her feet off the pedals, stopped playing immediately and started calling out for help and to her squirming pet, (Let’s just call it – Hammy) “Come on Hammy…wiggle out, go right!”
But Hammy was petrified! Some strings do not let you escape easily, and so with each wiggle, he slid further down into the dark pit belly of the piano. “Dad Hero” – Max came charging in to the rescue, but little Mr. Hammy wasn’t getting the message.
They both tried coaxing, then banging on the sides and shouting to get Hammy to let go of his desperate grip on the strings.
Finally, Max got some tools out to dismantle the grand piano. He got the off the top board and realized he needed specialized tools to get the other screws out. Frustrated at the look of the despair on his daughter’s face, he thought – If only I could become a hamster, I could get in there and help Hammy out.
Would you give up your ability to speak, create and be fully human to save a lesser animal you loved? If your pet got stuck somewhere and you had special powers, would you consider becoming, say a dog or cat, knowing that the terrified pet would most likely trust and follow its kind to safety?
Hammy will always trust a fellow hamster over a high-sounding, booming, authoritarian voice – even if it is the voice of its owner. This mirrors the essence of the Christmas story – when God became one of us.
The story of how a loving God saw His children petrified by the daily grind of life, beaten to pulp by hopelessness and fearful of definite death. He knew that if He would come down from His immeasurable glory and majesty and become a man, He could completely feel and be touched with our struggles, fears and pain, more importantly, he could show us the way, help us see that He’s got our back. How else do you understand someone else’s struggles, except by empathy and by walking in their shoes?
Sadly, the fantasy of Santa Claus is barely adequate. He is “here” once a year. The real gift, however has arms outstretched all through the year and for a lifetime. He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother and is totally committed to us with fierce, unconditional love.
For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but (He) was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Heb. 4:15
Overlooked and lowly shepherds received a very strange birth announcement. An even stranger star in the sky led kings to a baby not born by a renown midwife, but by a medically inept carpenter and his virgin bride in a smelly manger – instead of Zen music, perceptive goats, rams, sheep and horses were stunned that the divine birth just happened in their filthy shack.
This Christmas season, we try to replicate love in our minuscule ways by giving gifts, helping the less fortunate and spreading Christmas cheer. But every one of us has a line in the sand that we would not cross in the name of love. Thankfully, God is love. The very best of heaven – Jesus…our Emmanuel came with lavish, extravagant love.
Back to Hammy, Max called for professional assemblers to dismantle the grand piano and while they were waiting for their arrival, Hammy got weary or hungry or both and finally let go of the stings and crawled back up to the music rack. His little nose twitching and dusty. Yay!
I read this joke about how different people typically respond to others (in this case – Hammy) in the pit:
The Pharisee says, “You deserve to be in the pit.” The Catholic says, “You need to suffer while you’re in the pit.” The Baptist says, “If you’d get saved, you wouldn’t have fallen into the pit.” The Charismatic says, “Just confess -“I’m not in the pit.” The mathematician says, “Let me calculate how you fell into the pit.” The IRS agent says, “Have you paid taxes on that pit?” The optimist says, “Things could be worse.” The pessimist says, “Things will get worse.”
The Lord Jesus doesn’t waste time theorizing how we get into these pits. He just reaches out and gets us out when we ask, and sometimes even when we don’t.
Thankfully, Hammy had an owner – a pet lover who considered becoming a hamster just to help him out. That’s what I am thankful for this Christmas…my God is not far off, unyielding, judging and demanding. He came near and stays close, never mad at me – regardless of what I do or didn’t do. His love is stable and relentless.
With no fancy words or phrases, I pray you’ll invite the Lord in and unwrap the real gift of His unrelenting, unconditional love.