This is the Place Where We Belong

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We traveled a lifetime to get here.

By J. Jeff Toler for Shenandoah Christian Alliance

“Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.” (Doug Larson)

Since May of 2020, I’ve written about the challenging, often heartbreaking, certainly deteriorating culture here and abroad; the affairs of both Church and State. I write about what I see and hear in our schools, the courts, the halls of Congress, and the state houses. I read carefully and listen closely. I spend a lot of time writing about marriage, the family, our communities, the worldview praxis of Marxist/secularist theory and its war with the Kingdom of God. (The what?)

In these times there is no lack of subject matter—no dearth of controversial topics and their impact on us. But I will say this: even though by now I might have degreed in political science or sociology, I still won’t claim I’m an expert.

I matriculated to Art Center College of Design, [] which has consistently ranked in the top 15 art schools in the world. []

I had little or no interest, much less desire, to spend my time thinking about the things I now write about each week. This is not to say I wasn’t paying attention to the culture I lived in, it’s just that my focus was on developing my talent and skills in marketing and advertising to the culture that existed then.

Art Center was, and still is, a very competitive, very disciplined environment. My student days there were very intense. I was, at best, an average student in high school, and so I never dreamed I would one day advocate for a good education. 

Upon reflection, I think God always had different plans for me than I did. I also think I was, and perhaps still am, fighting Him all the way. Perhaps I have tested God and found that among His character and attributes for which I should be most grateful is His patience. Have you thanked God for Him being slow to anger? For being kind and Gracious? I confess, I do.

I remember once seeing this very wise message on a bumper sticker: “No matter where you go in life, there you are.”

Where does God want us to be? What does He want us to do? When asking a friend and fellow worship leader how to know what God thinks regarding my career trajectory, he quoted to me this: “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Here is a truth: If we do what he wants for us, we will be where he wants us.

Many years later, I now understand why this verse brought me such peace. The long road didn’t take me to some earthly destination; some fabulous success, or a rich payoff. That’s okay. I’m already living in the best place anyone can be on this earth: The Kingdom of God. It’s in His Kingdom that makes every other stronghold look alien and unsatisfying. I am where I am because I have journeyed long to be here.

It is this Kingdom that brought God to earth: To establish it here, so we may live in it and be strong in faith, and know real joy. Yes, He came as a little baby as we came into the world, but it was He who would split time in two.

Life and work experiences in and of themselves don’t describe, much less shape, our lives as much as what we learn on the journey about ourselves and our relationship with God. When God is willing to come to us, be with us, and love us; these things—these experiences—are shaped by our response to Him. 

Now we see that so many have lost the innate appeal, attraction, and affection for a newborn baby. Why have the newborn become disposable? For that matter, why is life itself no longer sacred and precious for this generation’s “thought leaders” and philosophers? The answer is this: the new intellectuals have no idea where they are, what they are doing, and where they are going. This is why Jesus came into this world as a baby: so all may see and hear.

The name of Jesus in Greek is “Ἰησοῦς” (pronounced “Iēsoūs”). The Greek name Ἰησοῦς is a transliteration of the Hebrew name “Yeshua” (יֵשׁוּעַ), which means “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation.” Yahweh is the best approximation of the revealed Hebrew name of God, YHWH, [known as the Tetragrammaton] which translated means “He Who Makes That Which Has Been Made.” Immanuel means “God with us.” This name is who Jesus is, but not His given name. This name for a little baby would become the the name to which everyone will one day bow. The wonder of the Christmas story is but a part of the complete story His life—it’s meaning and it’s purpose—of His birth, His death, and the eternity he opened up for the faithful.

Could God have offered salvation and righteousness to His beloved any other way? Perhaps, but it’s unimaginable. Everything God does is perfection. It’s we who tend to mess it up. And so we need forgiveness.

My life, as unremarkable as it may be to some people, is still very important to God. My journey and my purpose will likely mean very little to others, but God finds me important enough to send me my Savior as a little baby. I did not need to just imagine Him as a person, I love Him as a person and worship Him as God in the flesh. He is, “Fully God, fully human.”

“Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? When you kiss your little baby, You kiss the face of God?”
 (From “Mary, Did You Know” by Mark Lowry, pictured). Listen here: []

Let’s not mince words. The world right now is in serious crisis. It certainly has been before, but these present times seem different. My grandmother told me the second world war was dreadful. Many, she said, thought Hitler was the Antichrist. She wasn’t convinced because she knew her Bible well. She knew there were many religions, but Satanism wasn’t one of them. She would be amazed that Satan’s image would appear in the rotunda of a statehouse. Though many predict these are the end times, still, the Bible says He will come like a thief in the night—when no one is expecting Him. Israel was expecting the Messiah for hundreds of years.

  • When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:17-20)

This Christmas offers us, once again, the miracle of Jesus’ birth. This same Jesus who will one day judge the nations. 

Merry Christmas to all!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views the Virginia Christian Alliance

About the Author

Shenandoah Christian Alliance
Shenandoah Christian Alliance is a Christian organization devoted to the promotion and education of biblical truths, faith, and spiritual equipping. We believe in the sanctity of marriage as defined in God’s revealed word. We oppose the practice of abortion, and respectfully object to its funding and facilitation as currently promoted by our elected leaders. We understand homosexuality to be something that God—whom we worship and honor—does not approve among his creation. Our faith in God as revealed in scripture is not something we are ashamed of, or for which we must apologize.