Not knowing what to expect
by Christie Browning
It's Christmas and throughout the season we take time to share the Christmas story in our homes, in our church services, and through our favorite carols. There's special attention paid to each of the individuals that play a part in the birth of Christ. I particularly like to think about Mary and what that entire experience might have been like for her.
Several friends and Facebook acquaintances have recently had babies and I am sure several of them read the popular book "What to Expect When Your Expecting." While I'm sure this book is a big help to expecting moms, I would vote for the "ignorance is bliss" option. Mary was certainly left unaware, not knowing exactly how the story was going to unfold. She was given very few details:
- You will have a son
- You will call him Jesus
- He will be great and be called the Son of the Most High
- He will reign over Jacob's descendants
- His kingdom will not end
These details are intriguing but don't offer a lot of the "hows" in this situation. If I was Mary, I think I would have had wanted to keep that Angel around just a bit longer in order to get some clarification.
But what really intrigues me about Mary is her calm and humble response: “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. - Luke 1:38
Her response makes me believe that maybe, just maybe, she had some past experiences that prepared her for this moment. Were there some past circumstances that tried her faith, that showed her the power of God? I can't imagine this being her first time to feel God's direction in her life or His hand guiding her steps. This couldn't have been the first time she knew of God's provision or His wonder-working characteristics. Doesn't that make you want to know more about Mary's backstory? It does for me!
We think of the uncomfortable ride Mary must have had on that donkey the night she and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem, but as a mom, can you imagine being ok with the makings of a stable for your newborn baby? I'm sure Mary would have wanted things to be just right. No doubt she was preparing back at home for the baby's arrival....putting things in place, nesting and prepping her space. Now, all that planning was for nothing. A spontaneous move had to be made and a stable became the stage for one of the most important moments in history.
In life, I tend to want things so-so. I like order, routine and to be in control of situations...especially situations that seem challenging. It's not always easy for me to take my hands off the wheel and let God take over. Usually, God wins by default... meaning, I've tried every which way but His before I finally throw my hands up in frustration and surrender. But Mary exemplified surrender in that moment when Joseph relayed the bad news... there was no room for them. A stable would have to make do and a feeding trough would have to serve as a bed. Mary was in complete surrender to the moment and had offered herself fully to the service of God.
As we go about this last week before Christmas, may we enjoy the gifts, the sights and the sounds of the season. However, may we also take stock of our own hearts - to evaluate our own surrender to God's will and plan in our lives. He's the same God who watched His Son come to earth by way of a stable. He's the same God who picked an unassuming Mary to be the mother. He's the same God who sent lowly shepherds to welcome the Son of the Most High. He's the same God who orchestrated a great plan to save the world. And... He's the same God who would have done all of this had it been for just one of His children to save. During the holiday season, I pray the warmth that fills your heart and home is that which comes from the presence of God. Glory to God in the highest!