the first photo here was from later that morning, just after i met her. conventional wisdom was that she would warm up to us a little slowly, as she has to nearly all of the new people in her life; she has, after all, had a lot to adjust to over the past few months — being brought into her new family and moving from china to germany to the us. but she has been so much fun, socializing and flirting with all of us, and generally captivating the room at every turn. what a delight!
there is something wonderful about having a direct connection to someone. it's not that we haven't known s at all; we've been reading about her, hearing the stories, talking to her on the phone, and even seeing photos and video online. but there's something qualitatively different about looking into her eyes and holding her in our arms. it's a direct encounter that no report or photo can ever approach. there's a certain ineffable quality to a genuine, unmediated relationship. and it was worth all of the effort that it took to make it happen, though i'm certain that she can't imagine what it has cost.
so much of this reminds me of how christians think about this time of year — the anticipation of finally meeting a long-awaited dear one, the many unexpected hardships along the way, the thrill of a face-to-face meeting that surpasses any report or simple factual knowledge. those of us who take the time to reflect during the season of advent often think of ourselves as the ones who are waiting, enduring in hope for the sake of an encounter with Jesus. and there's certainly some validity to looking at it that way.
but i think the wonder of christmas is all that God embraced to have an intimate connection with us. the amazing thing is not just that God loves us and wants to restore the sin-broken relationship with humanity, as astonishing as that might be; rather, it is that God would demonstrate that love by bridging the gap himself by coming in human form and making himself vulnerable to his own creation. it is not just that he would find a way to defeat sin and death so that we could live with him forever, but that he would do it by living our life, suffering our sufferings, experiencing our temptations, and eventually, dying our death. it is not just that God knows everything about our lives, but that he has experienced them from the inside. it is not just that Jesus came to make payment on an otherwise unpayable debt, but that he took on helplessness, pain, and hardship for the sake of a direct encounter with us — to look into our eyes and hold us in his arms, as it were.
that is the love that will not let us go, the love that is wooing me and you. will you open the door to him?
Jesus says, "behold, i stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, i will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with me." revelation 3:20