The Gift of a Manger

Amy Clemens

Read: Psalm 91

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (v. 1)

I was young when the story of Corrie ten Boom was brought to life in The Hiding Place. One scene remains etched on my mind forever: the day that Corrie’s sister, Betsie, gave thanks for their flea-infested barracks at Ravensbrück. Corrie was incensed (as was I!), but Betsie pointed out that this “gift” kept the guards away. God was their shelter, and they were abiding in his shadow.

Perhaps Mary felt irritated about giving birth in a barn, laying the Son of God in a manger. How could she possibly feel grateful for a feeding trough, with who-knows-what kind of vermin lurking? And yet . . . and yet . . . in a rude shelter off the beaten path, away from prying eyes, gossiping tongues, and jealous rulers, the shelter of the Most High casts a protective shadow. That night, the coarse feeding trough holds bread of life for us, a truth that is affirmed to Mary and Joseph by startling visitors.

We all have our mangers: places, moments, scenes, sometimes long chapters that are nothing like what we expected. But if we come to the manger with faith that God has a plan we cannot yet comprehend, we will more easily trust his shelter and shadow.

—Amy Clemens

Giver of good gifts, help me see my mangers through your eyes. Enlarge my imagination when I feel irritation rising. As I choose to dwell in your shelter, cast the long shadow of your presence over me.