The air was crisp with just enough wind to go straight through you and the drizzle kept me feeling wet and chilled. Sunrise was another 30 minutes away, but with the heavy fog and rain it wasn't like it could be seen anyway.
The horses were hungry and restless. As I moved through the shed row tossing hay into mangers and pouring feed into bins, the cattle milled and bawled and the horses whinnied and blew through their damp noses.
They were glad to be under the shed and not out in the mist. As they settled down to eat, I checked the water in each set of stalls and made sure the calves had plenty of cover. After I fed and headed out from under the barn, I heard a coyote yip off in the distance. He probably wouldn't hunt today, if for no other reason, than it was just too cold. The drizzle and rain in North Texas was a gentle reminder that it was, indeed, winter.
I locked the barn door and turned to pull the switch that shut off the lights along the shed row. The animals had settled down and were satisfied with the breakfast I had given them. All was right in their world. As I turned to leave, one of the horses nickered softly, his head was up and he was looking in my direction. He was truly appreciative. He resumed eating appearing thankful for the food and shelter.
I stood for a moment and listened. The calves were munching on their breakfast, and the horses stamped and blew through noses covered in sweet feed.
My Savior, Jesus, was born in a manger in a barn just like this one a long time ago. I cannot imagine how his mother must have felt as she and Joseph sought refuge in a shed row in Bethlehem. Mary must have been so frightened, so young, so far away from her family, and about to give birth to her first child in a shed among animals like mine.
The King of Kings didn't make his entrance in some fine hall of gold or palace of grandeur. No, the King of the Christian world first laid his head on the hay of some manger where animals rested. It certainly isn't what you might have expected.
Scripture tells us in Isaiah, "He had no beauty of majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him." And yet, Immanuel had come, in a feeding trough in a shed row just like mine in a little town called Bethlehem. His cries would change the world because, for the first time, ever the cries and voice of God would come from a truly human voice.
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40: 28-31).
I flipped off the lights and headed to the house bracing against the cold rain. A barn full of animals! Imagine that!
My Savior was born in a manger, in a barn like mine. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords would humble himself repeatedly to understand what you and I go through and wrestle with every single day.
The King of Kings would feel what I feel, hurt how I hurt, and battle on a day to day basis with the same things I battle with. Born in a barn like mine he would walk step for step through every human tragedy imaginable just to let us know how much he loves us. Christ died, just like I am going to die someday, and yet with his resurrection comes the promise of my own resurrection through the blessed blood of Christ.
Melinda Clements is an E-T community columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.