Nate’s family came from western Illinois, mine from the Chicago area. Once we had children, we made good use of route 80, our link between four loving grandparents.
I remember one summer when Nate and I took our then-five children to visit Grandma and Grandpa Nyman on a sweltering weekend. We were able to stay an extra night when Nate decided he could take the train directly to Chicago’s Loop early Monday morning. The five youngsters and I would follow on Monday afternoon in the family car, a robust Jeep Cherokee.
After waving goodbye, we started down route 80, the car windows wide open and the music playing loudly on the cassette player. Our children, ages 12, 10, 8, 4 and 2, were all enjoying the trip when we pulled off for gas and a bathroom break. But as the Jeep slowed, we heard a raucous banging coming from under the hood.
I pulled into a little country station at Rock Falls and left the motor running, hoping a mechanic would listen to the racket and tell me how to stop it. His news wasn’t good. “Lady,” he said, “when you turn that engine off, it’ll never start again.”
I thought he was exaggerating, but apparently the car had run out of oil. Parts had broken off inside the engine and were crashing against each other. I considered filling the gas tank without turning the car off, then resuming our trip. After all, the vehicle was still running.
While the kids ran around the gas station and the car continued to pound, I called Nate at the office. He squelched my idea to keep going and told me to park the car wherever the gas station guy directed, then turn it off.
“I’ll come and pick you up,” he said, as if we were just a hop, skip and a jump from where he was. Rock Falls was over 100 miles from his office, and coming to “pick us up” was going to ruin his business day and put him behind the wheel for four hours.
But this is what love does. It rescues.
I think of the Christmas season in that light. Jesus loved us so thoroughly, he made the ultimate sacrifice to rescue us. He laid down his life. But it was much more than that. He never did one thing wrong yet willingly took the blame for all of our wrongdoings. He could have said, “Human beings are a big disappointment and aren’t worth saving.” Yet he rescued us anyway.
On that summer day in Rock Falls, I’ll never forget the rush of joy we all felt when Nate’s black Lincoln came into view and turned into that little gas station. The seven of us, along with four suitcases, squeezed into his sedan with a spirit of celebration and gratitude.
Our rescuer had come. All was well.
This Christmas, may the rush of joy we feel over God’s Son coming to earth overwhelm us with a spirit of celebration and gratitude like no other.
Our Rescuer has come. All is well.
“Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world.” (Galatians 1:4)