Wonder in the waiting
by Christie Browning
Just 30 minutes sooner and the story could have been entirely different.
If Mary and Joseph had arrived in town sooner, they might have found a place to stay. If Joseph had knocked on that innkeeper's door just 30 minutes sooner, Mary and Joseph may have taken the last room. They may have spent their night in a warm inn, in a comfy bed, surrounded by supportive and helpful hands as Mary gave birth to Jesus. But no... the timing wasn't so.
Actually, if you back up the story a bit... if Mary's pregnancy had started a month later, she wouldn't have been in the position to deliver Jesus while her and Joseph were in Bethlehem. Had she started a month earlier, she would have already had the baby in her own home. Timing was everything -- the story would have been entirely different had there been just a little adjustment to the timeline.
But God knew exactly what He was doing. Part of the wonder of the birth of Jesus was that He was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Can you imagine your nativity scene if Mary had delivered Jesus in her own home or in a room in the Inn? Can you imagine the crowd that might have gathered? God had planned for the irony. He orchestrated the details that made the story of His Son's arrival on earth absolutely miraculous. Outside of the fact that Mary was a virgin, the other facets to the Christmas story involve the unfortunate circumstances of having to travel, the awful luck that the couple couldn't find a room and that the very Son of God was born among some smelly cattle, on a dirt floor and laid in their feeding trough.
If it had been me, I would have rushed the trip. I would have been impatient and pushed Joseph to hurry. I would have driven that donkey to his death trying to rush us to Bethlehem and in turn... I would have ruined the whole Christmas story. Thankfully, Mary was way more patient than I.
When I look at my own life, I spend a lot of effort and energy trying to push things along, make things happen faster, pulling things along at a faster pace and exhausting myself physically and emotionally because I want things to happen NOW. I am so anxious to "arrive" and to get to it... whatever "it" may be. Am I arriving 30 minutes too soon? Am I robbing myself of the opportunity to see God work a miracle? Am I running right past my stable experience, getting the chance to see God orchestra His perfect timing and His perfect outcome? How often do I mess things up or make things harder for myself simply because I want to rush to the end of the story? Where is the wonder in waiting, in slowing down and letting God's timeline play out?
Many times we take control because we lack faith. Not faith in God's ability to make things happen, but I believe we lose faith that God cares about us... that He doesn't notice what we're trying to do or make happen...that He doesn't really hear our hearts when we pray or know what we want. God looked and found Mary, an unassuming girl that was content just going on about her life. He noticed her. He picked her and He aligned all the pieces of the story together in such a way that we still talk about it today. He knew every character in the Christmas story - Joseph, the shepherds, the innkeeper, all the folks that filled the city to the brim, the political powers at be that demanded the census and tax to be taken at that time... all the moving parts He saw, He noticed and He had His Almighty hand on.
Can we not trust that God can handle all the complications that exist in our own circumstances? Do we not see God in the details of our own story? Are we doubting that He would take time for us and our storyline?
Don't rush past your stable moment. As 2018 comes with its promise of opportunity and newness, don't race ahead and leave the wonder of waiting behind. Be busy doing your part, but know God wants to play a role too. He has all the moving parts in control. He is working all the pieces of the puzzle just so and if we let Him, He'll create a beautiful, miraculous story of our own lives.