One last question the interviewer asked, “Do you have any advice to pass along to incoming lobos?” (University of New Mexico’s mascot) Ian paused as if to collect all his thoughts for one last review. (all five years, four months, three brain surgeries, eight different hospital stays located in three different states.) Yes! Ian said emphatically… “Don’t get hit by a car.” And that was it. He offered one final chuckle. Anticlimactic and surreal. Ian is a college graduate.
Not How it Should Have Been
This… is not how graduation should have been. I envisioned a huge arena and an enormous celebration, honoring not only Ian, but the throngs of support that have prayed and invested time and energy in this persevering young man. Ian’s graduation ceremony would commemorate the blood, sweat and tears of soooooo many. (His assistant Sheri, faithful pray-ers, gracious professors, administrators, advisors, the kind dining hall workers who would allow Ian to eat without his missing ID, the RAs, the 24 hr student desk employees who would loan him a key at all hours, the campus police and even the UNM president). Ian doesn’t remember names, but you can be sure, everyone from that list knew his. Instead of a deserved and public ceremony, Ian’s name will flash across the computer screen sometime around 1pm this Friday.
The irony of this muted celebration happening in the the midst of this muted 2020 Advent season has not been lost on me. Nothing these days is how it should have been.
The First Christmas
But it occurs to me this Advent, that first Christmas in Bethlehem was not how it should have been either.
The coming of the King could have happened anywhere, in any way. But, curiously, it all began with a virgin called Mary, in a lowly manger. And it’s easy to conclude, not how it should have been.
With no room in the Inn, a stable would have to do. In the stench of urine and manure, on the hard cold ground, the Savior of the world would enter the world. Without the nearby shepherds, there would have been no reception. And without a group of stargazers there would have been no gifts. Not how it should have been.
Many Didn’t Believe It Then
Because the story is so preposterous and not how it should have been, most at the time didn’t believe it.
Do we Believe It Now?
But what about today? Do we believe it? We’ve heard it a hundred times, we sing about it all month long, but do we really believe it? Do we believe it enough to allow it to change us?
Christmas was God’s brilliant, thoughtful, intentional plan. The omnipotent creator of the the universe, made himself vulnerable and breakable. He who had been Spirit became flesh and blood. Larger than the cosmos, He became an embryo. And He who sustains the world chose to be dependent on the care and inexperience of a young girl.
You can’t make this stuff up.
I Wonder Why?
Have you ever wondered WHY God chose to save us by becoming human? It would have been a lot less messy to just snap His fingers or speak a word. Then it wouldn’t be as painful or complicated or dependent on us frail humans to participate in the outcome.
But that’s just it. God’s thoughts and ways are not like ours.
Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
In my experience God’s ways are unpredictable, messy, purposeful yet above all sacrificially loving. God did it for you and He did it for me. He did it so He could get personal. Born on Christmas, Jesus, while completely divine was also completely human.
For thirty-three years he would feel everything you and I have ever felt. He felt weak and weary. Disappointed and excited. Angry and frustrated. He was afraid of failure and susceptible to enticing women and intoxicating wine. Jesus laughed and got embarrassed. He burped, got colds, and even had body odor. His feelings got hurt and he was often misunderstood. And all of it without sin.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
To think of Jesus as a crass real human seems irreverent. It’s uncomfortable. We would rather keep the peanut butter knife out of the jelly jar. It’s easier when we separate his humanity from the incarnation. That way we can clean up the smell in the manger and pretend Jesus had a cushioned existence sitting at the right hand of God the father.
Keep Him Separate
He’s easier to take that way. When we keep him divine and separate, that keeps him distant and predictable. When He’s up there, we think we can control His invasion down here.
But… that is NOT how God works.
Jesus set the tone on that first Christmas when He joined humanity. Because He became one of us, He gets it. He gets all of it. Including the sad disappointment of an anti-climatic graduation.
The way I see it, He wants for us to embrace the peanut butter knife in the jelly jar. He wants to be so intertwined with us that His fingerprints are visible on absolutely every part of our life, regardless of whether it’s how it should be or not.
Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
When I think about it that way I’m able to recognize how circumstances that are not how they should be can be the ideal backdrop for God to do something extraordinary. In Bethlehem, the birth of a Savior. In Albquerque, a miraculous recovery after a devastating accident. During a pandemic, a feature article giving an inspiring artist tremendous exposure. God is ALWAYS on the move.
May the humanity of Jesus invade your heart so the divinity of Jesus can take over your life.
For His Glory, Debbie Hucke
The link to the UNM published feature article. Feature Article Ian Hucke
Christy O Atkinson says
Great insight! Thank you.
I just read Ian’s article. Remarkable!
And he is so very talented.
Praying for his future.
Thank you Christy. Prayers are what got him over the finish line!
Anne kole says
Debbie, your last paragraph this morning really grabbed me. Thank you! And I continue to pray for Ian. He has remarkable courage that goes beyond the norm. He’s a witness to God’s power, whether he knows it or not. And so are you! ❤️🙏
As always…. I appreciate your encouragement.
What an amazing, inspiring young man.
Thank you Debbie, for your words.
Thank you Carlotta.
Jane Cook says
Thank you once again, Debbie, for showing me a new way to look at situations and relationships. “Not the way it should be” is certainly the apt descriptor both for 2020 and Jesus’ reception from the world. Congratulations to Ian for his dedication to completing his degree and growing as an artist. Kudos to you as well, you’ve poured yourself into his pursuits to help obtain these dreams. Loved the UNM article about him!
Good to hear from you Jane! Thank you. May 2021 be less of “not the way it should be!”
Congratulations to Ian!
Thank you for your timely message today.
Thank you Wendy.
Debra Harbaugh says
Great to hear that Ian graduated! I also want to thank you and Doug for the patience and support you have Ian all these years. I wish you and your family a very merry Christmas and be safe. All my love,
Judie Dwyer says
Two graduations!; such milestones for Ian and Becca! What a nice article about Ian. He has grown so much and how wonderful he’s discovered/enjoying his passion for painting. His smile tells it all. I don’t know if I missed it or not, but I’m curious what Becca’s plans are for the future since graduating Baylor. Congratulations to ALL of you! 🙂
Thanks for asking Judie. Becca does fly under the radar. She is home til mid Jan but has completed her first semester of grad school for Speech Pathology at Univ of Pitt.
Judie Dwyer says
That’s outstanding! What a great field. Thanks for replying.
Congratulations to both Ian and Becca on their respective graduations. Best wishes to them on their future endeavors. The UNM article on Ian was a great tribute to Ian’s incredible UNM experience. Hooray to the Hucke family for your ongoing faith, love, and support for one another.
Thank you Ellen. It was indeed a group effort.
Loved the article about Ian! He’s a remarkable young man with a remarkable family who have stood by him at all times. God has some wonderful plans for him!
Thank you Margie. We are counting on it.
Betsy Everett says
Loved, loved, loved the article about Ian. Thanks for sharing Debbie. Truly inspiring.
Thanks for being part of his village. 🙂
Berta Pitzer says
WOW! What a celebration with 2 graduations! What a remarkable accomplishment for both of your children!! I rejoice with you. I love your take on “not how it should be”!! It really helps me cope with our daughter’s trials of getting rid of the Lyme Disease and NOW finds out she’s extremely infested with Mold and is highly sensitive to any treatment! Now I know-God’s in this in a BIG way.
Yes. Perspective helps us endure. His character is unquestionable. He is always at work.
Vickie Everitt says
Although we have been gone from Sandia Pres for a year now, Brian and I still appreciate news of your family and the miracles God has performed! Congratulations to Becca and Ian for graduating college and to Becca for obtaining acceptance into grad school! What an exciting time for Ian–read the article! What is his art webpage if he has one? Would love to look at his work! Also, your article caught my attention, “…not how it should be can be the ideal backdrop for God to something extraordinary…”. So true for what we live each day in 2020, and so true so many hundreds of years ago during Jesus’ birth! BTW…my husband wants to know how long the Hucke’s will be in ABQ as pastor/wife, as he wants to consider ABQ for retirement in 7 years!! (LOL, no need to answer publicly, I know God has his own plans).
Hello Vickie, Good to hear from you. Where do you live now? Thanks for your kind words. It’s on my list to collect his art and put it in one place. Artists are not very organized. 🙂
Vickie Everitt says
Hi Deb, We are near Dayton, Wright Patterson Air Force base. We have an address of Beavercreek Township, Xenia Address, but on the edge of Beavercreek and Fairborn. We love the green rolling hills, but, miss the weather of ABQ!
Amen and Amen! Always look forward to Wednesday for your devotion as they bless me so much. So Real and Raw and so needed. Cheering for Ian (incredible article). He is so remarkable and will do amazing things with art!
Thank you my Montana friend. Hope your family is prepared for a Hucke visit when the pandemic passes.
YES!! You all come up anytime. Summer’s are beautiful. Once again…Love the words today and would love to read the article. Love that perspective. CBS lesson I am working on for today. John 8. He IS the Light of the World. HUGS dear friend.
:). Merry Christmas to your whole clan.
Par Sarajian says
Debbie, Jay and I send our love and best wishes to you and family. Congratulations to Ian. Thank you Jesus! Please continue to share with us. Blessings, Pat & Jay
Good to hear from you Pat and Jay. YOU both have been a part of our village from the start!
Emmy Browning says
What an incredible accomplishment for both Becca and Ian. Unbelievable a couple of years ago for Ian. Congrats to the whole Hucke family. Glory be to God.
Thanks Emmy. Glory be to God indeed.
Congratulations to Ian and Becca! Great accomplishments! Loved the UNM article. The support of your family and friends and all mentioned in the article was a true blessing. Debbie, your writing is an inspiration to us. Thank you.
Thank you Lynne. Thank you for your faithful support.
Amanda Mathews says
Not sure what happened to the typing in my last post but: Fantastic as always, Debbie! I’m Proud of Ian and I know God is working his “magic” on him in the quiet and the chaos. Merry Christmas!
Thanks Amanda. Quiet and chaotic indeed. Blessings to you and your family.
Judy Zanotti says
Debbie, I am late in responding to this beautiful article that touched my heart deeply. I had read about Ian in the UNM newsletter. What a tribute to him and to you. You both teach us so much and I am so very grateful.
Love to you and your family this Christmas,
Thank you Judy. Kind words indeed. Love to your family this Christmas as well.