Do you ever feel like you know the Christmas story backwards and forwards, and while it’s wonderful, it’s so incredibly familiar? Want a fresh perspective?
If you’re one who enjoys being in control (let me just raise my hand here), this one’s for you. Recently, God used the age-old story of the nativity to give me four insights on my obsession over the details, and the way He works in the midst of our everyday lives.
“Helping God out”
I was totally stressed. I was supposed to speak at a retreat out of state, but there was a hurricane aiming right for the city where I’d be speaking. I didn’t know if the retreat would be canceled or if I could even get there. At the same time a close family member was dying, and I wanted to be at the funeral.
My to-do list was beyond control and I was feeling guilty about the things I’d left undone and the people I’d let down.
I couldn’t sleep. If the retreat was canceled, then what? If it wasn’t and my family member died, how would I be two places at once? The more I tried to solve the obvious issues, others jumped into my head. Outcomes I couldn’t control. Unknown events, other things that could happen. What if . . . then what?
In my sleep-deprived condition, I fell to my knees on the floor of my office and cried out to the Lord.
Father, I can’t figure this out. There are too many contingencies, too many unknowns. I can’t plan. I surrender to you. Take all of this. Please help me!
In the stillness that followed I sensed the Father put His arms around me and gently reminded me that I was trying to be God and I’m not. I was trying to do His job and I can’t.
He is the only one who has the whole picture in mind, all the details, all the needs, the future, etc. I felt silly and embarrassed but at the same time tenderly convicted and comforted.
This wasn’t the first time I’d tried to “play God.” Have you ever done that, or is it just me? I’m betting I’m not alone. Over and over in my life, even when I don’t realize it, I still try to “help Him out.” After all, I want to be responsible. I am a problem solver. I want to “fix” things.
God’s job vs. our job
God has made us women problem solvers and fixers. As mothers, we have to be. But sometimes this instinct gets in the way as we try to take on God’s job.
Whenever I get myself in a muddle I always find it helpful to shift my focus from my issues to God. Who is He? How does He work? How might He speak to me in this situation?
As I revisited the Christmas story this year, God gave me these four insights into how He works — and why I don’t have to be in control.
- Micah foretold that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem, Judea. (Micah 5:2) How would they “happen” to be in Bethlehem when they lived in Nazareth in Galilee? The government called for a census, so they had to go to their home town of Bethlehem when Mary was 9 months pregnant!
God used even the Jewish government to bring about His purpose.
- Isaiah tells us that the Savior will be born of a virgin. (Isaiah 7:14) What a radical thought–to the Jews, to us, to Mary. Mary was simply a Jewish girl doing normal things on a normal day when an angel appeared with the news that she was the Chosen One. Fearful and confused she asked, “How can this be?”
God enters into our lives in the normal everyday routines we experience. He has a plan. We need to be open to His interruptions. Often His interruptions are about something so much bigger that our small worlds.
- Matthew tells us that when Joseph, who was faithful to the law, discovered Mary was pregnant, He decided to divorce her quietly. (Pregnancy outside of marriage was among the very worst sins.) But after He considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to Him and led him in a better way. (Matthew 1:19-20)
When we want to follow God and are going in the wrong way, He will intervene.
- After the angel told Mary her big news he also told her that Elizabeth her relative was pregnant, in her old age. Mary hurried to the hill country where Elizabeth lived. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice her baby leaped in her womb and she instantly knew that Mary carried the Lord! (Matthew 1:39-56)
God knows how fragile we are. How much we need reassurance.
He planned ahead for Elizabeth to conceive at just the right moment. Although she had been faithful to God, she was infertile her whole life, a disgrace at that time. (Luke 1:6-7), God knew how confused and fearful Mary would be. He planned ahead for Elizabeth to comfort and to rejoice with her. God knows each one of us in this same way. He plans ahead for our comfort and reassurance when we choose to walk in His ways.
This Christmas season God has been reminding me that He has the future under control. He is the God of contingencies. He will meet our needs as they arise. He will direct our steps. There is so much more going on in His plans than just my little world.
He is a good, good Father.
It is refreshing to look at the Christmas story with new eyes. Ask God to show you something new this season.
Read the Christmas story around your dinner table with your kids. Have each person listen for something new that they have not noticed before. (Matthew 1 and Luke 1- 2). Then take time to share these insights and all will be blessed!
Have a wonderful week and an especially Merry Christmas.
For further insights, check out this sermon series on the prophesies about Jesus.
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