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    Faith | 3 min read

    Immanuel, God with Us

    “‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” -Matthew 1:23

    Have you ever been alone and been really scared? I remember one frightening circumstance in my life in 1985.

    It was pitch black around midnight on a cool Friday night in Munger Place where I lived in East Dallas. It was very common to hear gunshots every Friday and Saturday night during the five years that I lived there. I had just returned home from the night shift on the freight loading dock at ICX where I worked. I decided to take a brief walk to the corner and back when I heard some muffled noises that sounded like someone being mugged in the alley behind the house.

    I walked toward the noise and then yelled loudly to make it known that someone was nearby.

    Suddenly a shadowy figure emerged from the alley and crossed the side street. In the moonlight, it appeared that he was carrying a metal pipe. I yelled again and then heard the most terrifying sound I had ever heard—the click of a shell being pumped into a shotgun chamber. I was all alone in the pitch-black night and scared to death.

    Life in this fallen world can be very frightening—especially when we feel all alone. In addition to the crime prevalent in our cities, we face the daily struggles of life and sin.

    Being alone when we struggle with these challenges can be tough. Having a companion is always better! Another terrifying event I lived through allows me to attest to that.

    It was November 1999. I was leading a small East-West team to Latin America. We boarded an Aeromexico plane headed from Mexico to our destination and took off after dark for the one-hour flight. About 30 minutes into the flight, we heard four loud explosions. One of the two engines on our jet had blown while we were flying 400 mph at 35,000 feet.

    People on board started sobbing and crying. One lady screamed, “Everybody pray! This plane is going down!” The flight attendants took the crash position. The pilot radioed to the tower, “Disaster emergency.” We made a sharp U-turn and headed back to Mexico. The pilot made several accelerating steep nose-dives to try to jumpstart the engine. I kept waiting for what seemed to be the eventual impact into the ocean.

    But this time, I was not alone! There were 134 other passengers on board, including five friends! One friend named Rebecca was sitting right behind me, and her hand shot over the seat back and she grabbed my hand and squeezed it and never let go! Our hopes surged when we saw the lights of the airport. Then our hopes were dashed when we overflew the runway because we were “coming in hot” and were flying way too fast to land. We turned back out over the pitch-black ocean and thought the plane was going to be ditched into the sea. On the next pass, we made a second attempt at an emergency landing at the airport. We could see emergency vehicles, fire trucks, and ambulances waiting by the runway.

    Mysteriously, I was at peace. We were all praying like crazy, and God was with us. We landed safely by the grace of God!

    The Scripture tells us that two are better than one. Human companionship can be very reassuring! But having a companion who is the Almighty God of the universe is best. I don’t know about you, but I have to remind myself habitually of God’s perpetual supernatural presence with me! God’s faithful, never-ending companionship makes all the difference.

    Christmas is the eternal guarantee that God is always with you in this challenging world.

    In Matthew 28:20, the promise of the resurrected Jesus shortly before His ascension declares, “‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Because of the birth of Jesus and His indwelling Holy Spirit, God Almighty is with us forever and always! And because the Holy Spirit indwells you and me right now and forever, Jesus’ presence will never leave you or forsake you and is always with you to help you.

    That is the Christmas miracle!

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    Kurt Nelson

    Kurt serves as East-West's President and CEO, providing leadership and oversight to all worldwide ministry endeavors in the more than 70 countries in which East-West currently operates. Kurt and his wife, Pat, live in Dallas, Texas, and have nine children and seven grandchildren.