“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” – Luke 2:6-7.
Everybody has a friend(s) that plan every single thing. There’s no space for spontaneity. They have a blueprint in place that will help them know how to make the most efficient use of their time and energy. Nothing frustrates them more than when a well-conceived plan falls apart at the seams. Yet life has a way of changing the best-laid plans.
Joseph and Mary were all excited and planning to get married, when all of a sudden, an angel told Mary she was going to have a baby. And not just any baby, but the baby that would later save the world from our sins. Mary isn’t married yet. People, including Joseph, would have a pretty hard time believing she got pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Consequences could’ve been pretty dire for Mary if anyone wanted to make an example of her. So, yeah, their plans took an inexplicable turn.
What were Mary and Joseph thinking and feeling as they arrived in Bethlehem and were unable to find the living space that maybe they were hoping for? While we don’t know their exact plan after arriving in Bethlehem, it probably didn’t include laying Jesus in a feeding trough after He was born. Regardless of His make-shift crib, Jesus’ birth was no less miraculous. His arrival on this earth was made no less meaningful. His first moments and cries no less special. It was that powerful moment that ultimately changed life as we know it, and it didn’t take everything going according to plan to make it so.
Mary and Joseph trusted in God’s plan, even when it wasn’t their plan. Mary could’ve insisted that having a baby wasn’t in her life plan, and even if she were going to do this, couldn’t God wait until she was happily married? But she didn’t. In the middle of her worries, fears, and doubts, she trusted God enough to know that His plan was better. And because she was willing to trust in God’s plan more than her plan, she played a huge role in His story on earth.
This Christmas, remember that when things don’t go as planned, God has the most room to work. And may this Christmas remind you that in the midst of our unplanned lives, God is with us in the waiting, working to bring the best plans—better plans than we can ask for or imagine.
As you get busy this Christmas weekend gathering with friends and family, orchestrating feasts, and making sure that everyone has the holiday experience they were hoping for, take a moment to stop thinking about what comes next, or perhaps what didn’t quite pan out earlier that day. Set aside the plan. Breathe in the hope of a newborn Savior. Remember the peace that He brings with Him. Celebrate the joy that His birth offers.
- What can we learn from Joseph and Mary’s reaction to their plans being changed? When was a time when you really knew you were living God’s plans for you? How did you know? Or, when was a time when you realized that you were not living God’s plans for you? How did you know?
- 2. Proverbs 16:4 says: “The Lord has made everything for His own purposes.” What are the implications of this verse for our lives?