Expecting our first child during this Christmas season brought about some special reflections on the unseemly birth of our Savior that I doubt I would have had otherwise.
As the birth of our child approached, I began to grow concerned about the circumstances that I thought needed to be different. At that time we had a hole in the room that I hoped would eventually be our nursery; that hole circulated into our house black ash and dust from the burnt attic area; my sister was still living with us and I couldn’t use her room to organize things; our kitchen floor is so old that the tiles cannot be cleaned beyond a certain point; we were living off only my husband’s part-time income; and so on and so forth… As I continued to dwell on these “problems” I grew more and more frustrated at my present position.
Then one Sunday while Daniel was teaching a children’s class, I was reminded by his lesson about woman who in a similar season of life patiently endured her own set of circumstances…
We are told today that it would not be wise for a woman to travel long distances during her last trimester. But imagine being required by law to journey across the desert in your final month of pregnancy on a very bumpy mode of transportation! (And I shudder at the thought of crossing a speed bump!) Women are also advised to be prepared, to get to the hospital on time, and to be in a safe and sanitary room to deliver. But imagine arriving in an unknown town–not even being able to find lodging. In fact, all of the hotels are full, and your only option for rest is in the barn out back! To top it off, it is full of animals and there are no beds…for you or your baby! So, you give birth in the barn and then place your baby…in the container that the animals eat out of. (Yes, many Americans are more than skeptical at the idea of a home birth; wonder what they’d think of stable births? ;))
By now, you have probably caught on to who this lady is! But what humbles me most in realizing her willingness to simply submit and obey is the fact that she knew she was not just giving birth to a sinful, mortal baby; she was giving birth to the Son of God come in human flesh, the King of Kings! In all of my motherly desires for everything to be “just right” for our baby’s arrival, the importance of my child’s arrival can in no way compare to what Mary faced. Truly, her desire would have been to welcome Him in the most extravagant way she knew how. But this was not God’s plan for her or for His Son. And in all this, we do not find her complaining; instead, we read that she marveled at all that God ordained! Certainly she was human and fallible, but what humility and obedience she exhibited!
And while Mary’s birth experience is a humbling thought, even more remarkable is God’s sending of Christ to earth. He Who knew no sin…to become sin for us? He who knew the glories and splendors of heaven…to leave them to come to an earth that He had created and had been defaced by man’s–His own creation–sin? He came to earth and was born in a stable, not a lofty palace or modern facility. And He came to minister to sinners like me and like you.
How quickly that puts things in perspective. The Lord allowed this new understanding of the “Christmas story” to minister to my heart in a way that it never had before. Now, when I am tempted to complain or worry about my circumstances (many of which have already changed) surrounding this birth, I am quickly reminded that God knows each circumstance we face and He is in complete control; I am reminded of God’s sacrifice for me and realize that I have no sacrifice to make at all.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9
What grace is this!
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