Here’s our hands-down all-time favorite Christmas poem, with our paraphrase following.
Little Baby Thing
They all were looking for a king
to slay their foes and lift them high.
Thou cam’st a little baby thing
that made a woman cry.
O Son of Man, to right my lot,
naught but Thy presence can avail.
But on the road Thy wheels are not,
nor on the sea Thy sail!
My how or when Thou wilt not heed,
but come down Thine own secret stair,
that Thou may’st answer all my need,
yea, every bygone prayer.
Our non-poetic paraphrase:
(First stanza is clear enough)
They all were looking for a king to slay their foes and lift them high.
Well, maybe not clear enough.
Humans were wanting (want) a Messiah or Deliverer who would put them in charge, completely at the top of the heap. In fact, do away with the heap! (“slay their foes and lift them high”).
But You, Jesus, did not come as a king. You came as an infant human, a helpless newborn.
O Son of Man, my situation cannot be repaired – I myself cannot be repaired – except by Your presence with me in my own real life.
But I watch the ocean intently and never do see the sails of Your ship (or warship) coming over the horizon.
I watch all the roads ceaselessly, and the wheels of Your carriage (or military chariot) never do appear on any of them.
You are not paying attention to my instructions as to when or how You should show up.
You have your own secret stairway into my life, down which You come
in order to meet my massive need of You, and even fulfill the deepest longings of my past.
That last part reminds me of one of my favorite Christmas carol lines:
“Oh little town of Bethlehem …
The hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.”
The means, timing, and strategy of His true coming
are not what we would expect – or even want.
And the consequences of His true coming far exceed
all of our hopes and dreams – and needs.