I was a young girl but not so young that I did not feel this yearning, this desire, this emptiness deep down. All the hurts, all the tears, all the turmoil. At the time, I knew there had to be more to life than "this." But, what was it? I had to find out and thus my search began.
I heard that off in the not so far distance a King was born. He was to be the Savior for all people bringing glad tidings and peace. Could this be true I questioned? Is this what I am missing, the so-called peace that this King is supposed to bring? I thought, "Well there is only one way to find out and that is to go and find this King and pay Him a visit." Early the next day I ran with a determination that I did not know I even had. I ran and ran asking for directions along the way - "Where is this King that was born? I must find Him. Do you know the way?" After receiving direction after direction and following them precisely, I came to a stable. I could not believe my eyes or my surroundings. Surely I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way. Out of breath but determined, to find this King, I made myself go into the stable and there before me were all sorts of animals, camels, sheep and even some cattle. Still out of breath, I made my way further into the stable. As I stood there breathless, before my eyes was a baby boy in a handmade manger of straw and some wood. There was a man and woman there who I knew had to be the parents of this baby boy. They looked surprised to see me as much as I was surprised to see them in these surroundings. He was a beautiful baby boy, but I knew this was not the birthplace of one who was called a King. I mean the smell, the stench, and the animals munching away on the hay. No way could this be the One who would be King. I apologized to the man and the woman telling them that I must have taken a wrong turn in my search for one who was born a King. I was too stunned to say anything more and left in search of a King who would bring me peace and quiet to my soul.
Many years had passed since that encounter with the baby in the manger and my search continued. I needed peace in my life more than ever. It seemed as though everything around me was spinning out of control. I had traveled some places I knew I never should have all in the search for peace. I felt worn out and used, tossed aside like a piece of garbage awaiting some dog to devour me. Down but not defeated my search continued.
One day I heard all this talk and commotion about this Man who was beaten and whipped beyond recognition. Beaten so brutally that one was able to see His bones and tissue as the blood poured out crimson red. The talk of the town varied. Some say He deserved what He got. Others, on the other hand, knew without a doubt that He was innocent. They said He was a King. Their King. I thought about that and wondered if this is the King, I was looking for all these years. And if it was, why were they crucifying Him. Was it too late for me? Was it too late for Him to give me the peace I was so desperate for? Then someone told me, that He was laid Him upon a cross to be crucified. They put a crown of thorns on His head, and a sign above His head that read "King of the Jews." I have to say that got my curiosity awakened and I took off running full speed ahead to the place where crucifixions took place. I ran with all my might straight to the foot of His cross. There I was breathless before Him, staring at Him wondering if He truly was the King, I was looking for. Like the baby in the manger, He didn't look like a King. I mean He was so beaten and His blood was dripping from all the cuts and bruises, that there was no telling who He was. Breathless I stood looking up at Him and sure enough above His head was the sign that read - "King of the Jews." Still breathless before Him, I was even more confused wondering how this could be. Is this really the One I've been searching for all my life? If it is, then I am too late. He is going to be dead in just a few hours. Once again, I missed my chance at peace. After catching my breath, I took one last look before I turned and mumbled some kind of prayer to a God that I'm not sure even existed, and if He did, I wasn't sure He would hear my prayer. Besides, what could He do now, this Man that was before me was just as good as dead.
I turned away from the One who hung there bleeding and dying and made my way back home. I couldn't imagine the neighborhood would be quiet that afternoon. There was too much talk of the One who I just turned my back on and walked away from. Sure enough the streets were filled with people talking and debating about that One. I needed to be alone so I could ponder life and its meaning. I needed to figure out how to find the peace that I was looking for. It was a long night and sleep didn't come easily as I tossed and turned seeing the face of the One who looked down at me from the cross with eyes that seemed to be pleading with mine. I didn't know what it meant but I knew that I would never forget those eyes.
A few days later, it was Sunday to be exact; I heard shouts coming from the street right outside my window. I sat up and shook the sleep from head, and listened. He's gone...the tomb is empty...the stone is rolled away...no one knows where His body is...come you must see for yourselves. What in the world? What are they talking about? I got dressed as fast as I could and ran outside to get the news. It seemed that the One before whom I stood breathless was not in the tomb that He was buried in after being taken down from the cross. How can that be? Is this true? There was only one way to find out and that was to go and see for myself. I ran through the crowds pushing and shoving, anxious about what happened to His body. I arrived at the tomb and it was obvious that others have seen for themselves that the tomb was empty. I ran to the entrance of the tomb and I as stood there breathless I looked and I could not believe what I saw. I saw nothing, the tomb was empty. There I stood breathless before the empty tomb too shocked to move. As others began arriving at the tomb, I shook my head in disbelief and told them that sure enough the tomb was empty. We all stood there breathless staring into the empty tomb wondering what it all meant. No one wanted to leave but yet we knew there was no reason to stay. I headed back home as did the others deep in thought not sure what to think.
It wasn't long before once again I heard more noise and commotion. Now what I thought, can't I just get a little peace and quiet? I just about had it with all this noise and commotion these last few hours. But of course, my curiosity sent me in search of what all the noise was about. It seemed that now people are claiming to have seen this One, who hung on the cross, was buried in the tomb and now whose body was no longer in the tomb. What did they mean He was appearing before them? This kind of talk went on for forty days. I have to say, I did not see the One they claimed to be walking among them. I think they were all letting their imaginations get the best of them. I mean after a missing body from tomb, I am not surprised. But as for me, my imagination is just fine and it is not playing tricks on me.
One day I was in a gathering and I heard someone tell a story about a man named Jesus. He said that He was God's Son and that He was the Messiah, the promised King. He told the story of how He was born in a manger among the animals because there was no room for Him at the inn. He said that He was beaten and crucified for all people so that they can have eternal life. He said that this One, this Jesus, was placed in a tomb only to be found empty three days later. He had risen from the dead. He told how this One appeared to many for forty days before His Resurrection back to Heaven. He told us that His name is Immanuel, God with us. He is the Prince of Peace. He is the King of Kings. He said that everyone who calls on this name would be saved. All of this took my breath away as I recalled the scene at the manger, those pleading eyes and dripping blood at the cross, the empty tomb. It all made sense now. I now knew that the One in the manger, the One on Cross, the One who was buried in that tomb was the One I had been looking for all my life. The realization took my breath away. Breathless, I fell on my knees weeping at the feet of the One who was able to give me the peace I so desired. It was at His throne of grace I confessed my sins and my need for Him and for His peace. It was at His throne of Grace I gave Him my life not only for a day but for all eternity.
As I left His throne of grace filled with His peace, forgiveness and love, I searched out those who could teach me His ways and learn His word. I now run to His throne daily and He still leaves me breathless. I am continuing my run with my eyes set upon the Wedding Feast that is still to come, which is off in the distance. But I know that when I get there, once again I will be BREATHLESS BEFORE GOD!
I do not know where you are in life but I want to ask you, does God take your breath away? When was the last time He took your breath away? If you can't remember because it's been so long, maybe you need to run to the manger and start there. Run full speed ahead and gaze on that baby boy Who came so that He could take your breath away. Maybe it's been a long time. If that is where you are then run to cross, and look up into the eyes that plead with you telling you that He loves you, that He wants to take your breath away once again, and leave you breathless as you live for Him. On the other hand maybe, you need to run to the empty tomb and stand there breathless allowing it to remind you how empty your life was before Him. Or, are you at time in your life where you need to run to the throne of grace. If that is what you need to do, then run with all you have in you and fall at your knees breathless before the One who beckons us to come boldly before His throne of grace. Wherever we are in life, I pray that we have not changed direction, that we have not turned our backs on our King, but that we are running full speed ahead with our eyes on the wedding feast that awaits us.
I'll see you there. I'll be the one who will be standing BREATHLESS BEFORE GOD.