During the Christmas season I enjoy taking a break from whatever it is I am studying at the time to spend reading, studying, and meditating on the Christmas narratives in Matthew and Luke. I am constantly being challenged by different facets of the wonders of Christ’s First Advent, and am looking forward to His Second!
One thing that has really impacted me this year is how drastically life’s plans changed for Mary and Joseph when the angel told her she would bear the Messiah. This was a pregnancy much sooner than she was planning. This would cause stress and pressure to the relationships she cherished. This caused Joseph to have to make a choice he never thought he would need to. It caused them to need to travel in the final month of her pregnancy (not for the faint of heart!), and then travel when the child was young to the land of Egypt that held so much symbolism for a Jew that it must have caused a moment of trepidation. The rest of their lives would be changed by the burden of raising the Christ and a family during the time of Roman occupation and religious division. Simon even declared that it would cause Mary sorrow upon sorrow in her life.
Yet, looking at Mary and Joseph’s response we are instantly struck with the humble obedience and joy-filled gratitude that characterizes their words and actions. Mary’s Magnificat is a beautiful three stanza psalm that praises God for what He has done for her, for all mankind, and for Israel specifically. Joseph’s consistent thoughtfulness coupled with responsive action is a challenge to us to be prudent in our choices and quick in our obedience. Although their lives were turned upside down in many ways, we find Mary in the upper room praying in Acts 1:14. Through the lifetime of the unexpected and unplanned for, Mary still was found trusting God’s hand and plan.
What about us? One of the more startling statistics in studying Deaf culture is that 85-90% of hearing parents that have a Deaf child never learn sign language well enough to have a full conversation with their child. They were expecting a healthy child, and now the plan changed. If you or I were faced with that, how would we respond? If lesser plans get changed by the unexpected, or by ramifications of a blessing God gives you that you didn’t realize, will we respond like Joseph and Mary and be found faithful as we trust God day by day?
In a very personal way, Marie and I are working through some of these challenges. God has surprised us by giving us an unexpected baby due the end of May! While there is a large part of me that is excited, it certainly brings many changes to the plan and the timeline! We certainly appreciate the love, support, and prayers that come our way. We are even more grateful for the Father of Lights that only gives good and perfect gifts. While this was not part of our plan, it is a part of His plan, and we look forward to what God will do in changing us, and what God will do in the life of the little one. Pray that the baby finds parents that, like Mary and Joseph, love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and might and teach it God’s Word when they arise, lie down, sit, and walk in the way (Deuteronomy 6:4-7).