The God Who Walked in Our Shoes (or What a Refrigerator Door Taught Me About the Incarnation)
Please welcome my husband, Eric Dolce, to Motherhood and Sanctity. After four weeks in Kings and Chronicles, we're pausing to hear his reflections on the incarnation of Christ. Eric wrote the below a few years ago and a version of it was shared on this site. I'm resurrecting his words today and hope you will find them as encouraging as I do. We return to our study of Israel's kings next week--until then, receive this good news on the King of all kings!
Comedian Jenny Eclair once quipped, “I am very short-sighted and if I don’t like a situation I take my glasses off.” Everyone falls victim to their limitations and I’m no different. At some point, however, it’s not always “our glasses” that we need for improved vision. No, sometimes, we may need someone else’s eyes to see things clearly. Here’s what I mean…
I can be a very petty man. Sometimes I find myself making mountains out of proverbial molehills. One way I was guilty of this was through the way I’d view my wife’s apparent propensity to leave the refrigerator door slightly ajar (note here that our refrigerator door will resist unless purposely closed). I would make mention of it from time-to-time, always careful in my tone to come across as reminding her in a “by-the-way” kind of moment. I never wanted to make a big deal out of it but inside I was sometimes boiling over in childish rage: “It’s so simple! Why can’t she do it?? If she’d only take her time…”
Then it happened. My wife was going away on “Soul Sabbatical” with the Women’s Ministry at our church. It would be one of the very few chances she’d have to get away from the house and enjoy the opportunity to teach (something she’s quite excellent at, if I do say so myself). As the mother of a three year old and a fairly strong-willed 1 year old, she has sacrificed a lot of her preferences to take up the higher calling of motherhood. I was happy to stay with my daughters while she went away. After all, it was barely a 36 hour trip. But I had no idea what those few hours would reveal to me.
I stayed home with our daughters most of the time Nana was away. We did a lot of reading, running, playing, managing naps… and apparently a lot of eating. How do I know? I kept finding the refrigerator door open! I’d be juggling Noel, our youngest, in one arm and the yogurt for Jael’s fruit in my other arm. Thinking I’d closed the fridge door with my foot, 20 minutes later, I’d find the door slightly ajar.
I can’t say how many such scenarios came about, but I know that in a 36 hour span of time I failed to shut the door correctly at least 4 times. That’s when it I realized what my wife was going through. It wasn’t that she didn’t care or wasn’t trying to be careful. It was simply that with divided attentions on two children, their needs, and a desire to spend time with them, it was easy for certain details to slip away—not because of inattentiveness, but because of attentiveness to the children.
I had to step into her situation to see that. If I hadn’t spent those 36 hours in her stead, I would have never fully appreciated all that she had to deal with. I could have continued in my personal assumptions and unspoken condemnations of her if it hadn’t been for that get away. But since then, when I come home and find, again on rare occasions, the door being slightly ajar, I simply close it and say a prayer for my wife, renewal of her energy, and mental health! I know if the door is ajar, it’s only because she had a lot on her hands that day. God bless her.
As I write, I can’t help but think of the God Who came and walked in the shoes of another. Of course, God didn’t have to investigate our lives out of a lack of knowledge on His part. But rather, the incarnation of Christ was so that a Man could fulfill the requirements of God’s law by His perfect obedience and take upon Himself the punishment for our evil acts (Hebrews 2:17-18, Isaiah 53:4-5). Thusly, as a man He could usher in life and peace by way of His perfect obedience just as the earlier man (Adam) had ushered in death and enmity with God by way of his sin (Romans 5:18-19).
The benefits of the incarnation don’t stop at the fulfillment of the law and subsequent salvation for believers. The writer of Hebrews states:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16
If I, being evil and having no righteousness of my own, know when and how to pray for my wife because I have stood in her place for 36 hours—how much more will the Perfect Man, Jesus of Nazareth intercede effectively on behalf of His Bride, the Church, knowing her struggle for 33 years (Matthew 7:9-11)! We would not have this confidence if it were not for Jesus’ coming to be born of a woman, born under the law “for us and for our salvation” (Galatians 4:4-5).