Christmas: Here’s to Broken Plans and Endless Paradoxes

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Christmas: Here’s to Broken Plans and Endless Paradoxes

If you were asked to throw out words to describe your feelings about Christmas, “broken plans” and “paradoxes” probably wouldn’t make your list. But they’d be at the top of it if you were Mary and Joseph.

  • In the countdown to your wedding, your supposedly “virgin” fiancé tells you she’s pregnant and has the gall to claim that the father is none other than God himself.
  • While trying to quietly back out of your engagement commitment, two of God’s bouncers show up, scare the junk out of you, and convince you to stay in for the long haul.
  • Just shy of the baby’s due date, you find you have to report to your family’s town of record to be counted in a Roman census.
  • This case of bad-timing-on-crack leaves you no choice but to put your busting-at-the-seams betrothed on the back of donkey for a nasty cross-country trip to Bethlehem.
  • In spite of the fact she’s about to give birth to the Savior of the World, none of the innkeepers in your family’s town of origin can spare a room.
  • The modern-day equivalent of a hotel parking garage is the best you can do for accommodations and a makeshift maternity room.
  • You do your best to help as your betrothed grits her teeth, pumps her breath, and ultimately pushes the Son of God through her birth canal.
  • Confusion and awe overwhelm you both as you watch the Creator of the Universe nurse at his mother’s breast.
  • The tranquility of the moment is broken by the arrival of a bunch of blue-collar strangers all wanting a chance to adore the baby and take turns holding him.
  • Months later, while the boy is still very young, foreign brainiacs show up out of nowhere to worship this child and leave him a trust account.
  • It comes in handy when shortly after they leave you find yourselves running for your lives to Egypt to keep the boy from being assassinated by a jealous local ruler.

As crazy as this story began for Mary and Joseph, it was actually eclipsed by how it ended. The most perfect child ever to be born grew up to be the best human being ever to have lived. Yet He died in the cruelest way imaginable with the weight of all of our sin on His shoulders. Christmas is the opening chapter of a love story between you and God. The non-conventional way it played out reflects the heart of the God who wrote its script. It didn’t happen so that a bunch of snooty people could have a sweet story to reflect on as they closed out their calendar year. It happened so that a bunch of desperate people, (like you and me), could get rescued from the hopeless mess we were in. But for God to pull it off like He planned, He needed two people who were otherwise minding their own business to be willing to be pulled headlong into the middle of a series of fast moving events that were pretty much out of their control. The unfolding story of redemption that formed the backdrop of this Bethlehem drama served as the best offset for the nonstarters and inconsistencies playing out in its foreground. Yet, when Mary and Joseph were confronted with the prospect of waylaid plans followed by a series of events that often didn’t add up, they determined to trust God and obey Him. So what’s the lesson for you and me? It’s actually pretty obvious. Most of us would rather steer our own course in life. We typically don’t like change-orders or operating in a sea of unknowns. We especially prefer to steer clear of anything that includes fear, pain, confusion, or tears. The problem with these preferences is that it makes it hard for God to use us as supporting characters in his on-going incarnation story. Yet, one of the major teaching points of the Christmas Story is not only the redemptive role God wants to play in our lives, but the role he also wants us to play in his on-going incarnation story. He wants us to be people who willingly put our personal preferences up for grabs in order to submit to His better plan for our life. The scriptures tell us that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). But His ways are always good and His thoughts are always framed by His love for us. In addressing His commitment to the nation of Israel, God said, “For I know the plans I have for you, … “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). His MO hasn’t changed. God typically calls us to the road less traveled. It’s a journey that requires us to trust Him by faith and play that trust out through obedience. His paths are seldom safe, but they’re always good. Christmas is, among other things, an encouragement for us to assume a Mary and Joseph attitude towards God. They teach us that it’s better to come to God with an expectant heart than with a bunch of personal expectations. When we do this, it frees Him to do a first class Jesus miracle in us, for us, with us, to us, and through us. Like Mary and Joseph, if we just continue to trust and obey, he’ll give us a front row seat to His majesty, and in the process use us to tell his timeless “God with us” story to the people we’re called to love. ****************************************************************************************************************************** For more stories of God’s faithfulness amidst life’s broken plans and paradoxes, check out Dr. Tim Kimmel’s book “In Praise of Plan B.”

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