“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” —Isaiah 7:14 (NKJV)
The name Immanuel (meaning “God with us”) is used three times in the Bible: twice in the book of Isaiah (7:14, 8:8) and once in the book of Matthew (1:23). It’s clear that in both the Old and the New Testaments the name has the same meaning: Christ is with us.
I had one of those deep conversations with our ten year-old the other day — the kind that is surreal and borders on “adult” talk. It means he’s no longer in the category of kid when he comments on what truly matters in life (walking with Jesus), and how the enemy tries to deceive and distract us from the real meaning of this season (which is to celebrate the gift of Immanuel to the world). My son understood what Immanuel means. Who He is and how He’s constantly with us. And what struck me then wasn’t my son’s ability to recite a Bible story.
It was in the moment that he began to own his own faith.
Faith — no matter how small and underdeveloped in a ten year-old’s life — has begun to reveal itself in his own analysis of who Immanuel is, what He did, and what He continues to do in our lives every day.
It’s in that I see the glimpse of a man he will one day become. When Immanuel is more than a Christmas morning with gifts, and late December days with carol singing and santas. I see in him the promise of tomorrow and forgive me my parental pride for a moment, but my heart smiles because I see faith ownership taking hold. I encourage him to question. Not to take his faith for granted. If he has doubts, don’t take my word for it. I expect him to research those three verses of Immanuel on his own. To reach out in any season to know who Christ is, and that he’s constantly involved in our lives.
God is with us today — in this busy mid-week bustle more than ever. And as we gather with friends and family over the next holiday days, may we have the important conversations. The ones that encourage us to own our faith. To rejoice that God is with us, and that He’s calling each heart into communion with the gift of His Son come to earth.