Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:26-28, 30-31, 38 NASB
During the Christmas holidays of 2013, circumstances dictated that we move from one city to another. My husband had accepted a position with a church and he was to report for work the first Sunday of the New Year. So rather than decorate, host celebratory parties, take time to shop, or anything remotely associated with my usual holiday traditions, I packed boxes. Anyone who has packed up her house, made multiple trips to Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity to get rid of the excess and tried to do this in the midst of Christmas, will understand I was absolutely overwhelmed!
In the midst of my malaise, I was the Grinch! I was so resentful that my way of doing Christmas was interrupted that I stewed in my own selfish gravy. I really made myself sick! I needed to get over myself, so one night, in the midst of boxes and strapping tape, I spoke to the Lord. He knew my heart but I needed a word from Him.
He led me to the Christmas story in Luke 1. There I found the story of the Virgin Mary, who, needless to say, had a stark interruption of her own. As I read the familiar Scripture, I was transformed to her journey. From the proclamation by the angel, to her visit to her cousin Elizabeth, to her journey to Bethlehem, the Lord brought me to tears as I tried to imagine how she must have felt. What must she have gone through within her community and the innuendoes that must have resulted when others discovered her pregnancy? Joseph’s reaction and the grace he offered to his espoused wife once the angel revealed the truth. But the most amazing revelation was Mary’s reaction to the news and then her submission to the Lord. “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38 NASB
I looked around at my boxes, empty cabinets, half wrapped gifts and a family room with no tree. I bowed my head in prayer as I asked God to forgive my selfishness and to see that this move, this new church and this Christmas without a tree, was alright. God was with me and just as God had used Mary to accomplish His will, He would use this move to accomplish His will in our lives. It was all about my attitude. It was also about my faith and as the Lord’s servant, it was about His will in my life. I finished packing, moved the next day and found our new church and our new home to be a blessing. I learned from Mary’s journey that night but more importantly, I learned from her obedience. That Christmas was different from all others I had ever experienced. But as I vicariously took the journey to Bethlehem with Mary, I found great joy in knowing that being in His will is better than decorations and better than a tree. It was an adventure that revealed a surprise around each corner and an unexpected gift of seeing God’s will played out in my life in a way that only God could have orchestrated. It was a very Merry Christmas! One that I shall never forget.
Have you had a recent interruption in your plans? Please consider looking at it from God’s perspective. When we read the Christmas story, it is evident that God was in control. While the journey on the back of a burro could not have been easy for Mary, faith does not promise an easy way but the best way. There is a calm in the midst of any storm when we know we are acting and resting in God’s will. Rather than telling God how big your storm is, tell the storm how big your God is!
Dear Heavenly Father, how pompous we can be when there is a bump in our road. Please help us to remember that You are the Potter and we are the clay, to be molded and used as You see fit. Help us to desire to be used by You, whatever adjustment that may mean for us. In You we live and move and have our being. Amen