And she gave birth to her first-born son and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. – Luke 2:7
Ever since that fateful decision by Adam and Eve to do things their way instead of God’s way, human beings have struggled with creating space in their hearts for the presence of God. It was no different when God chose to come to this earth in the form of a perfect baby. Not only was there no room in a home for a proper birthing spot for Mary, but very few people welcomed the Savior of the world into their lives.
Two-thousand some years later after God physically entered our world to tangibly showcase His incredible love for us, we still struggle to fully welcome the wonders and workings of God into our lives. Like so many who were around during the days of Jesus, we often miss seeing and experiencing God in the midst of our busy, hustle and bustle lifestyles. Or, we find ourselves looking for a God formed in our own mind and expectations and fail to make room for the one true God who works in mysterious and often unpredictable ways.
In reading the Christmas story I am reminded of how God showed up in very unexpected ways. Mary was not looking to get pregnant (especially by the Holy Spirit); Joseph did not sign up to be the father of the Son of God; the Shepherds were minding their own business and not looking for an angelic visit; and the general population certainly were not looking for a King who would be born in a manger, or a Savior who would end up humbly dying on a cross.
Much of life this side of heaven is filled with the unexpected, unplanned and unwanted. Life often does not go as we plan and desire. I don’t see anywhere in Scripture where it says, “then someone had a great plan.” But, the Bible clearly reminds us that God does have a great plan that includes each of us. It is better than anything we could plan. God’s plan often is different than what we expect or even want. Yet, it is all those unexpected and even unwanted happenings of life that God works His wonders in our lives.
God’s invitation for all of us this Christmas is simply to make room in our hearts for His mysterious, wonderful and good workings in our lives. Embrace the unexpected as opportunities to see and experience the presence and provision of God and in so doing, truly welcome the Son of God into our crazy and chaotic world.
Pastor Mark Shupe