“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12
During this holiday season, many families will gather together and read the Christmas story. Sadly, we've grown so familiar with this piece of Scripture that the oddity included within its contents often gets lost. Think about it for a moment. Angels suddenly start appearing. There is a speechless priest named Zechariah who can't utter a word until his elderly wife Elizabeth gives birth to a baby.
To add to the craziness, when that baby is still in Elizabeth's womb it starts jumping for joy when it hears the voice of a pregnant teenager named Mary. Recently, Mary's world was turned upside down when another angel visited her and said she would conceive a baby with the help of the Holy Spirit. But, this wasn't any ordinary baby mind you; it would be the Son of God.
As a confused Joseph ponders how to handle this public relations nightmare, another angel appears to him in a dream urging him to go along with the marriage. So, Joseph and a very pregnant Mary make the long trek to Bethlehem, but when they get to their final destination, there is no room for them anywhere. Instead, the Savior of the world is born in a manger next to some startled farm animals on a silent night.
There was no fanfare, no big light show. Well, except for those stars that guided three wise men to the stable so they could throw an impromptu baby shower. Eight days later Mary and Joseph are at the temple with baby Jesus and are greeted by an overjoyed man named Simeon who had been hoping and expecting to see the Savior.
Only God could craft a story like this one. To be unpredictable is in His nature. There is one thing you must know when it comes to understanding God's character: He is predictably unexpected. His love might be the same "yesterday, today and forever," but the way He exhibits that love is unique to each one of us.
God is always relational, always redemptive and always concerned about His glory. We can rest in this fact. It is something we can build a foundation upon when there are moments of silence or life doesn't seem to make sense. God is there, and He is wooing us back to Himself, but probably in ways, we wouldn't expect.
Scripture is very clear about God's ways being higher, God's patience being longer and God's joy being deeper than we can even think or imagine. Unfortunately, we are prone to believe our ways are best. We tend to project our will upon God by placing our expectations on Him. We reason that if we were a loving God, we'd do it this way or that way.
When God doesn't live up to our expectations, we panic, give up, or try harder to take control of the situation. Unfortunately, the only times when many of us worry about hearing God's voice is when we are desperate. Things happen all around us. God is always doing something, but we are often so consumed and busy with getting our way we miss it. In the midst of the unexpected, we must listen, surrender and trust.
Where do you have a hard time trusting that God's ways are higher than your own?
God, in the midst of the silence, may I listen, surrender and trust. May I not put you in a box or force my expectations and demands upon You. I want to display the courage that confidently trusts everything I experience and encounter knowing You are using it to shape and conform my character. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.