The preparation was done. The expectations were high and I really thought that this year, I’d be able to keep up with recording our advent journey. But things didn’t quite go to plan and so, many days behind, here we are.
While I’d hoped to maintain a daily record, the reality was, that finding time amidst many other things that were going on just wasn’t feasible and despite my planning and preparation, it just didn’t happen.
But this got me thinking about the Christmas story itself. When we think about the key people, that first Christmas was the epitome of things not going to plan.
Mary was planning to marry Joseph, not prepare to become mother to the son of God. Joseph was planning to marry Mary, not be earthly father to God’s son. I don’t suppose Elizabeth and Zechariah had planned, at their time in life to become parents at all. And what about the inn keeper? While we don’t know his name, I don’t supposed he’d planned on either having his stable used as a makeshift maternity ward or becoming very well known.
Then there are the shepherds. We can only presume that their plans included a night of minding their flock and protecting them from wild animals, not being visited by angels and meeting the One who had come to change the world. The Wise Men hadn’t planned on anything other than finding a king in a palace, but as we know so well, He certainly wasn’t there.
For each of these, an unexpected twist meant their lives took a path they could never have planned for, because God did something completely out of the ordinary and allowed them to be a part of it. Despite the change to their plans, they allowed God to lead them and, in trusting His guiding hand in unfamiliar territory, they came face to face with God Himself.
We can make plans, preparing as best we possibly can, but how those plans turn out depends on God and His directing hand. That first Christmas brings so much about the unknown and unexpected to our attention. Things might not have been as those key figures had planned, but they were as God had planned and their willingness to follow God’s leading and guiding us the very reason we know of them today.
Maybe you feel that things for you aren’t going according to plan, that you didn’t expect them to work out the way they did. That doesn’t mean it’s a disaster, but it may well mean that God is about to do something amazing that He wants you to be a part of. Don’t despair when things don’t work out in accordance with your plans, trust God and His directing and as you trust Him and His plans, remember they exist ‘to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’ Now there’s a real gift to treasure this Christmas (PS… also worth treasuring all other days too!)