Randy Alcorn, in his book The Grace and Truth Paradox, tells the true story of Margaret Holder who was born in China to missionary parents serving with the China Inland Mission. In 1939, when Japan took control of eastern China, thirteen-year-old Margaret was imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp. She remained there, separated from her parents, for six years.

Eric Liddell

Eric Liddell

Another prisoner in that same camp was a vibrant missionary whom the children called “Uncle Eric.” He tutored some of them and was deeply loved by all the camp’s children. Uncle Eric, it turns out, was Eric Liddell, “The Flying Scot,” hero of the movie Chariots of Fire. Sadly, Liddell developed a brain tumor and died in the internment camp shortly after his forty-third birthday in 1945.

At times it seemed unbearable for Margaret and the other children to be cut off from their homes and families for such a protracted period of time. They were delighted and heartened occasionally by “care packages falling from the sky” in the form of barrels of food and other supplies dropped from American airplanes for the prisoners.

One day after Margaret had reached nineteen years of age, the children were lined up as usual for roll call. Suddenly an American plane flew overhead, circled around and began dropping more of those wonderful food barrels. “But this time the barrels had legs!” Margaret afterward related. The sky was full of paratroopers descending to rescue them.

Solder with childThe Japanese guards offered no resistance. Margaret and several hundred children rushed out of the camp to greet their rescuers. So great was the children’s joy and gratitude that they threw themselves on their deliverers, hugging and kissing them.

The biblical Christmas narratives contain repeated instances of people glorifying God and rejoicing in His sending of their Savior. Mary exclaimed, “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). The angel announced to the shepherds: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). After going to see the Savior for themselves, “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 2:20).

Manger and crossThe Bible’s Christmas story is so familiar that many of us fail to fully appreciate or respond appropriately to the profound reality it communicates. At Christmastime we celebrate God’s sending of His very own Son to be our Deliverer from captivity to sin and Satan. Jesus came to rescue us not only from our spiritual bondage but also from the present and eternal consequences that our sins deserve. If Christ had not come as our Savior, we would never have gained freedom from our sin and its consequences.

In light of that our hearts should overflow with praise and gratitude and joy to our Savior who has rescued us. May those responses to Christ Jesus be true of us this Christmas season as we contemplate His coming.

Copyright 2014 by Vance E. Christie