This Christmas week fell perfectly, in my opinion; Sunday to Sunday to prepare our hearts and minds for the gift of a lifetime.
Sunday morning as I was sitting at First Baptist listening to Jimmy Elder talk about how no one made room or time for Jesus on the night he was born, I was reminded that more oft than not, I am hard-pressed to find the time as well. And yet, I still expect great things from Jesus. And by great things, I really just mean that I expect things to go my way. I expect a peaceful home life, a great financial situation, and complete happiness that comes from life living up to my ideal and dream-world expectations.
But life doesn’t that work that way. And this week certainly hasn’t worked out this way. Doubt has filled my heart more than once.
We all doubt. Mary was full of doubt when the angel appeared to her and gave her the news that she was going to be with child. The perfect child, no less. And God planned the whole thing in a busy, bustling time. He sent Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem to be counted in the census. Their families had no time for them (conflicting schedules), there was no room for them in the inns (conflicting schedules, no time to plan, financial worries), and as a couple they were dealing with strife in their hearts that tore at their souls. Everything that they had planned for and all the things that they knew from childhood were being tested and torn a part.
But someone made room in a stable for them. And while we have little in details when it comes to labor and delivery, I have to believe that Mary was in great pain and full of fear, and Joseph couldn’t have been very confident in his midwifery skills. Yet, Jesus was born that night. Mary and Joseph were faithful to the Lord and obeyed willingly.
The Shepards were tending their flocks that night and this wasn’t an easy job. They had to stay awake to keep watch to protect the sheep from wandering off and getting lost or from being attacked by wild animals. The angels appeared to the Shepards-which I’m assuming was pretty far from normal in the middle of a field-and told them of the Christ child. The Shepards decided to make room/time and raced to see Jesus. Afterwards, they began to spread the word of the birth of the Savior. But the Scriptures tell us that Mary “treasured up all these things in her heart and pondered them.” (Luke 2:19) She spent time with the Savior as she nursed Him and changed His dirty diapers and she spent time with Him in her heart as she worshiped the Father.
God was faithful then and He is faithful now. This week handed me the death of a sweet friend, strife that has torn at my soul, conflicting schedules that frustrate my need for structure and planning, financial worries (it’s just that time of year), but still God has whispered sweet love to my heart. He gave me peace that passes all understanding. He gave me love when that was the furthest feeling from my emotional mind. And He has filled me with intense joy. My situation changed not at all, and yet God is faithful to speak to my heart sweet comfort and consolation.
While this week has been far from perfect in the eyes of the world-and, frankly, in mine either-what I have described above comes from within and not because I am faithful or good or because of anything I did on my own, but because of the love of a Savior.
I hope I am like Mary. I hope I obey willingly, put my fears aside, make room for Jesus always, and “store all these things in my heart and ponder them.” The Scriptures don’t tell us it was easy for Mary to do or that she never struggled. She was human and very young. The Bible does tell us that God chooses the foolish things of the world to show His glory. How grateful this foolish, unwise, lowly mortal is for that!