You know how people say that the Word of God is alive?
Wait, let me tweak that question.
Yes, you know how people say that the Word of God is alive, but even more so, how the Bible says the Word of God is alive (Hebrews 4:12)?
While there have been plenty of instances where I read a passage of Scripture and it spoke to me differently compared to when I read that exact Scripture in the past, I can’t help but think how especially true that is in regard to the Christmas Story—the story of how Jesus was born and the events surrounding His birth.
For many Christians (myself included), it’s a tale we read and talk about every single year. We know what happened that special night. We know about Mary and there being no room at the inn, and the angels singing, and how prophecies were fulfilled. However, even if we know all these things, it should never stop us from learning something new about Jesus’s birth or experiencing that child-like excitement to hear of His miraculous beginnings.
I was reminded of that simple idea when finishing up a manga called Giant Spider & Me: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale.
In Giant Spider & Me, Nagi, the main character who is a twelve-year-old girl, has lived alone for quite some time after her father left on another adventure to satisfy his wanderlust. Gathering food one day in the forest outside of her home, she comes across a giant spider who seems to be just as afraid of her as she is of him.
This “chance” encounter marks the beginning of a blossoming friendship between Nagi and the spider, Asa, which only strengthens as the manga progresses. It’s full of special meals, unexpected visitors, and subtle (or not-so-subtle) realizations on the importance of friendship and community.
While all those things were beautiful in one fashion or another, there was a specific scene where I felt my eyes begin to well up with unshed tears, because in that moment, I thought of myself before I knew Jesus.
It was just one page, but it was a page that I felt deeply in my heart.
On a chilly Christmas morning with no gifts or presents, Nagi muses about who she used to be before she met Asa, of how she never realized how “cold” her life was. It was just another passing day of attaining food, cooking recipes for herself, and reliving the memories that she had with her father.
But since she has had Asa, things have been and are different.
Doesn’t that sound a little familiar?
While Nagi would call it “warmth” and “contentment,” I would call it hope. Hope in a situation, in a life, where things were bleak. It can be hard to look forward to the future, and there is a longing for something better (even if we don’t know what that something is).
Jesus was and is that something. He was the one who brought warmth (light) and life (contentment) to our weary hearts and souls, which are hungry for food that fills more than our physical emptiness. Maybe not every person knew He was what they needed at the time that He was born, but those very people who did know went and told everyone so they could know.
And I’m so glad they did! It reminds me of what Jesus said after telling the parable about the sower in Matthew 13:17, of how prophets longed to see what those people saw when Jesus was born, to be able hear of His birth and see hope, warmth, and life come into this world in a way that the world can never elicit on its own.
Reading Nagi’s reflection of who she was stirred the embers of thankfulness in my heart this season. It reminded me of how blessed I truly am and how even after all the years I have read about Jesus’s birth, I should still be thankful, that I shouldn’t forget what Christmas really means and how it was the beginning of something new and precious.
Indeed, as the manga panels above say, this is just the beginning. Regardless of how young or old we may be, Jesus gives this continuing gift on Christmas and every day hence as we experience His love, His truth in a real way where we can have a relationship with Him and talk with Him.
It is an experience like no other, and I am thankful for how Giant Spider & Me reminded me to never stop reading about the birth of Christ through the eyes of a child, so that I might strive to live out the words from Luke 1:14 of having joy and gladness and rejoicing in Jesus and how He came to this Earth to save you and me.
Like Nagi said, it’s strange to consider that before I knew Jesus, I accepted the cold and emptiness like it was normal, but Jesus changed all of that when I accepted His gift of salvation, which was full of light, hope, and love.
The Christmas Story may be one we hear every year, but it’s one the Word of God always welcomes us to read again and again on Christmas morning so that we might re-experience the awe and warmth of Christ being born.
And the wonderful thing is that it’s a gift that continues to keep on giving and giving year after year.
Giant Spider & Me: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale is released by Seven Seas.