In the last year and a half my husband and I have lived in three different homes, none of them our own. In none of these places did I have my own furnishing or things and in none of these places did I hang my own pictures on the wall. As the New Year approaches, I am once again packing a suitcase to live out of for the next few weeks until we once again move into a home we will use but that is not ours. As a woman, this has been hard on me. The constant transitions, moves and travel make me feel unsettled and like I can’t “make a nest” or “put down roots.” I miss being part of a more permanent community of faith. So, like I often do, I was complaining to God about it the other day.
Gently, and with much kindness, the Father directed my attention to the Christmas story and more particularly to Mary’s story. In Luke 2:7 we read “She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them”(NLT). Some translations use the phrase “there was no room at the inn.”
I began to reflect. How did Mary feel about not being able to give birth in her own home, with family all around? How would I have reacted had I been Mary? Honestly, I’m pretty sure I would have been complaining, frustrated and a bit angry about this. Angry with Joseph for not providing me a better place, for not planning ahead more. Angry with God- Is this the best you can do for me LORD? When I was obedient and submitted to your will? A stable and a manger? Really God? I thought you were good!
Not Mary though. She shows no indication of anger at God’s unusually simple and temporary provision for her at this time. She was content. It was this contentment that enabled her to recognize and enjoy the incredible miracle of her son’s birth. It was her submission to God, her acceptance of her situation, that released the grace to delight in the Presence of Jesus and in His miraculous birth.
How many miracles do I miss because of my dissatisfaction, anger, sense of being unjustly treated, my offenses with others, my lack of contentment and my longing for something I don’t have instead of delighting in what God is currently giving me?
God’s provision was very basic. He gave her a stable. Why? That is easy for us to see now, thousands of years later. The stable makes it possible for anyone to relate to Jesus. He is a King, but was born in a humble and very simple place. It was part of God’s much bigger plan, something so much bigger than Mary and Joseph and their personal desires and needs. So it is for me, and for you. God’s provision is always best, is always good, and His love is always there for us. Sometimes we don’t understand why our circumstances are such as they are. Like Mary though, I want to trust God and be grateful for his goodness, even when it is different than my fleshly ideal. I want to receive from him the grace to be content in every circumstance. Then I won’t miss the miracle of His Presence. I won’t miss the history changing events He is working all around me.
This Christmas, I want to rejoice in the miracle of His birth as Mary did; as the shepherds, the angels and the wise men. Lord, please don’t let us miss the miracles you are working all around us. Let us surrender to your cosmic plans and purposes that are bigger than our understanding. Let us be fully at home in You; content, grateful, and with hearts full of joy and wonder as Mary’s must have been.