‘For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of peace’ -Isaiah 9:6
If you don’t know me particularly well, one thing that’s good to know about me is that I like a plan. Some of my friends will read this and cackle because I don’t make that many plans. But really I do like them. I’m probably the worst for making plans on my head though, I’m not great at communicating them. So everything is planned to the last detail in my mind... just nobody else knows about it! But one thing that even makes me quite nauseous to think about, is the kind of day where nothing goes to plan. When you wake up late, you have to rush through your day. When you pick an outfit in your head, try it on and you look like something out of the cast of Lord of the Rings. When you’ve got to be somewhere but didn’t plan traffic or travel time well, so you arrive late and your whole day is delayed. The worst for me? When you go shopping with a specific list of essential items and the shops don’t seem to be stocking anything that I need. I really hate when my plan doesn’t go to plan. And because I am a pretty last minute person, I have never built in any space for my plan to deviate in any way shape or form, and I am usually incensed when they don’t go the way my head designed them.
Thinking about the traditional Christmas story that we have all grown to be affiliated with, the only adjective I can think of to describe it is ‘chaos’. Come on, does anybody think about Mary in this whole thing? She had a plan. She was a young, model Jewish girl with a handsome fiancé on her arm. She’s probably planned out the wedding, planned out the furniture in their house, planned the menu and the food, this huge celebration! But all of a sudden she is stoped in her tracks by a blindingly bright angel who let her know she would be impregnated by the Holy Spirit supernaturally and she would bare the saviour of the world and call him Jesus. I’m sorry, what?! I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when she told Joseph.
Okay, so her start to married life didn’t go as she has perhaps planned. But at least the birth of the saviour of the world would go exactly to plan. It’s Jesus Christ. What could go wrong? Everything. A consensus is called when she was 9 months pregnant, before the days of über so she had to do the entire journey on a donkey. In the incredibly hot, sandy environment they were in. Now I have never been pregnant but that can’t be ideal. She goes into labour at the end of this journey only to find out Joseph hasn’t booked a hotel so now they have to knock door to door to find somewhere to give birth, with it being Christmas Eve (although Mary and Joseph were unaware it was at the time) of course all the hotels were booked! So they ended up in a stable and the God of all creation was laid in a manger. The birth? Did not go to plan.
How often do we find this to be the case? What we have been dreaming about is a far cry from what it turns out to be in reality. It comes in all different shapes and sizes. Maybe you thought you’d graduated university, but you haven’t yet. Maybe you thought you’d be in a different financial situation than you are. Maybe you thought you’d be in a relationship at this point in your life. Maybe the baby that you so desperately prayed for has now grown up and is following along the wrong path. You got into a relationship, and it’s nothing like you thought it would be. Life is FULL of unwelcome surprises in this way. And in the birth of Jesus himself, he was not exempt to this.
It’s okay to be disappointed, frustrated and maybe even disillusioned. It’s guts us when things don’t go to plan. Can you imagine how Mary must have felt in that moment? She was a teenage girl giving birth on the floor in a stable surrounded by farm animals. What probably made it worse is she knew exactly the magnitude of the child she was about to bare. Isiah 9:6 says, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of peace’. This is a scripture Mary would have been fully aware of being Jewish woman. All through her pregnancy she must have imagined giving birth to this baby in a palace, with the finest of everything. Beyond what she could imagine. It’s safe to say that the birth was exactly that, just not in the way she would have wanted.
Do you think Mary knew the full magnitude of what her obedience would achieve? Do you think she knew that her Son, born in a stable would change history for all eternity. Do you think she knew that what looked like a parenting mistake from her and Joseph, would turn out to be a story still being told over 2000 years later. I think if she was even fractionally aware of any of this? She wouldn’t have minded the deviation in her plan so much.
It’s not the only time in scripture where we see what looks to be a failure, actually being described as unimaginable triumph.
Jesus death on the cross looked like the biggest failure in human history. But it was actually the single handed redemption of every human soul that has ever, or will ever live. Not a bad way to go off the plan.
Your life may not look like what you planned, but rest assured, it is exactly what God planned. Every day, every minute, every second. God is intimately aware of where you are. And his plans for you are meticulous.
Merry Christmas from the agape generation. We love you x