Life Got Messy
I've been thinking about that first Christmas that occurred so very long ago. I can't help but smile when I think about how, from a human perspective, The first Christmas seemed to capture life entirely, messy. Mary had "plans", thoughts, or expectations for what her life would be like. She would get married, then after a year, or two they would have children. Joseph, no doubt, also had dreams and expectations for his life. He would marry a "nice" Jewish girl and perhaps, once they had saved some money they would have a house and children. They were a good Jewish couple. Then ... God stepped in and suddenly life was very complicated. Sometimes when we are following God, life gets harder. Just like it did for Mary and Joseph. Mary found herself pregnant in a society in which the penalty for this type of "sin" was death, and the only explanation she could give was one that no one would believe. I imagine that Mary must have thought, "this is not how my life was supposed to be." Joseph on the advice of an angel marries Mary, and the problem is solved, or so one would think, Everything is smooth sailing for the happy little family, right? Wrong! The king issues a decree, and they are off to a small town named Bethlehem that is 70 miles away. Did I mention that Mary is nine months pregnant? In fact, she goes into labor while they are in Bethlehem. I'm sure that both of them had some serious questions about God's timing, right about this time. Their plans were likely to have the baby at their home in Nazareth with their family there to offer support. At any rate, I'm sure that traveling to Bethlehem nine months pregnant was not their choice of a good time and having a baby in an unfamiliar town among people that they did not know was also not on their agenda. I can't imagine any person, in those circumstances, thinking, "this is exactly how I thought my life would be. All of us have been in the same place as Mary and Joseph a time or two. The place where our life gets messy and is not going how we envisioned it. Life does not always fit into a neat little package. People get sick, hurt, even killed, finances change. The best way to handle a complicated life is to be flexible. To trust God even when it looks bleak and even when nothing is working out like you expected. Just like Mary and Joseph, God may be about to do something huge in our life, with all of the things that seem out of place and not at all what we anticipated. When I look at others, I can look with a certainty that their life is not always the way they thought it would be either.