“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes…” Luke 2: 7
I remember my mother helping me after my first two babies were born. I loved watching her bathe them, cover them in lotion, put a fresh new diaper, undershirt and sleeper on, then carefully wrap them up tightly in a receiving blanket. Then she would pick them up and gently smother their little faces with kisses. J I asked her once why she wrapped them so tightly and she said, “It makes them feel safe and protected.” This is called “swaddling.”
When Mary gave birth to Jesus, there was no nice new layette with which to clothe Him, nor a bassinette or cradle in which to lay Him. But she had brought something to wrap around Him, something to use for swaddling. He may not have had a warm sleeper or a soft undershirt; but His little body was aware of someone who cherished Him enough to wrap Him tightly and cuddle Him.
Some may consider this too constrictive. “Babies need to be able to kick their feet and flail their arms all around, to always feel free!” I understand this; who doesn’t love to see a kicking baby? But I still hold with the swaddling, too, restrictive though it may seem. It’s never too early to learn that in life, we can’t always do what we want to do. And when the restriction comes with a tender touch and a heart of love, the lesson is priceless.
God tells Israel in Ezekiel sixteen that when He rescued them, they were like an unwanted, unloved baby cast out in a field, neither washed “nor swaddled at all.” A stark picture of neglect. But in His sovereign love and mercy, He raised them up and chose them to be His own special people. Ephesians two tells us that when you and I were “dead in…sins,” God “raised us up together, and made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” Peter calls us “…a chosen generation” (1 Pet. 2: 9).
This Christmas season, as I was reading again Luke chapter two, I was greatly moved by those words, “wrapped…in swaddling clothes.” It seemed to me as if God was using them to assure me that His love and protection and care for me are as personal as swaddling clothes, gently binding and tenderly restrictive. His arms that enfold me are not restraints but reassurances of His care and love for me. And, oh, I do feel loved, as though I’m being…swaddled by Sovereignty!
Merry Christmas, my dear, dear Readers!