Today's Devotional Thought
December 23, 2011 by Rachel Piferi
How many times have you said, "I didn't expect that?" Maybe you said it when a movie ended in a different way than you thought it would. Maybe you said it when you heard news of a friend making a decision that you question. Maybe you said it when your adult children made choices or turned in a direction that they shouldn't. Or maybe you said it when your plans didn't quite turn out as you expected.
I can imagine that Mary had several opportunities to say, "I didn't expect that!" I sometimes think that the Christmas story is so familiar that we miss many of the real, human pieces of it. And one of those pieces that I don't want any of you to miss this Christmas season is how much Mary and Joseph's life changed by being selected as the parents of Jesus. Mary was a teenager, engaged to be married to Joseph. And then out of nowhere, her entire life changed. And, I'm sure she thought, "I sure didn't expect to be the mother of the Savior of the world."
Then, imagine her nervousness as she had to approach Joseph about the baby growing inside of her. I'm sure she thought that he would leave her. And when he decided to stay by her side and raise Jesus with her, I am quite certain that she thought, "I didn't expect that."
Imagine learning of her cousin Elizabeth's pregnancy and then going to visit her to have her confirm the holy child developing inside of her. Not only was Elizabeth's pregnancy quite unexpected, but her reaction to Mary also was quite surprising, as John leapt in her womb. I can imagine Mary leaving Elizabeth's house after three months and saying, "I sure didn't expect that."
And then imagine the night of Jesus' birth. I can almost see Mary and Joseph searching for a place to stay and finding nothing. Did Mary fret about where she was going to give birth? As she felt the labor increasing that night, do you think she wondered where she was going to deliver the Savior? Did she cry out to God and ask Him why there was no room in the inn? Did she question why He wouldn't have opened the doors to at least one room for her so that she could give birth comfortably?
I am sure that giving birth in a stable and laying the Savior of the world in a manger is not what she expected. I am quite certain that she was confused, weary, and humbled by being chosen to be the mother of Jesus. And as she gave birth in a stable and welcomed her first guests, the shepherds, I believe that she was quite overwhelmed by the way God's promise was being carried out. But despite any confusion that she may have had or how many of her expectations had been shattered, Mary was obedient and faithful. Her life was not turning out as expected and even the ways that God was fulfilling His promises were different than she would have ever imagined.
Did she sit down one day and say, "This is not at all what I expected!"
Are things turning out a little different than you expected in your life? I think we all can learn from Mary, the young teenaged mother of God who gracefully and faithfully accepted the unexpected blessing that being Jesus' mother was. We must all strive to be open to God's plans for our life and even more so, be open to how He enacts them. Could God have opened up a room in a hotel for Mary & Joseph the night of Jesus' birth? He absolutely could have. But, He didn't and Jesus' birth turned out so much different than everyone would have expected.
God has a plan for each one of us. And those plans and the way that He carries them out may be so much different than we ever expected. But even though God's plans are sometimes different than we expect, they are always better. They are always richer and more abundant. And they are always the most fulfilling, amazing plans.
Don't shoot for the expected anymore, dear friends. Instead, follow God completely and be open to Him taking you someplace different than you expected. Wake up every morning and say to Him, "I don't know what you have for me today, but I will follow you and do what you tell me to do." Follow God's plans and let your life be filled to abundance with God's unexpected!