“Man Plans, and God Laughs!”* The first time I heard this I thought, "Yipes!" But consider this…
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem**, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:1-7
From the perspective of a first time, extremely pregnant, young girl, what part of that story could have been welcomed?
She had to leave family— mother, aunts, midwives, all she knew-- to go with Joseph to his ancestral home to be counted for a census in order to be taxed.
She had to walk (or possibly ride a donkey- we don't know for sure) about a five day, up hill, 75+ mile walk at nine months pregnant.
Upon arrival from the very long journey, there was no place to stay, so they slept in a cave where animals were kept out of the cold weather.
She gave birth with no supplies, not even a blanket to wrap him in and then placed Him on a bed of straw.
I bet Mary and Joseph pictured the birth of Jesus a little differently. And yet God used every bit of the “interrupted plans” to fulfill ancient prophecies of where, when, how and as proof as to the lineage of the Christ Child. In spite of what looked like chaotic, haphazard, unwelcomed circumstances, God was still in charge. Mary went with the flow trusting and living her life with a hand open to the plans of God.
I have had a twist in my plans for celebrating Christmas this year. If I did not know Who was in charge, I might get frustrated, befuddled or even upset. But since I know the first Christmas story, I have great faith that this year’s Christmas story, my Christmas story, will be like the first one if I choose to be like Mary and allow His plans to unfold and not cling too tightly to my own.
And if I do, if I work with Him and say Yes to what God is asking of me, I pray the outcome will remain as sweet...
“And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’”
I want to make the angels sing in my own life story and bring You great glory and me great peace because I do Your will, not mine. Help me to have the grace needed in the moment to go with the flow, see things from Your perspective and know...all will be well because You are still in charge.
I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
*Great thought to keep in mind this Christmas:
"Sometimes, I think we plan too much, and then think, all of a sudden that God interferes with our plans - but that's not the point at all. See, only the Spirit knows how to get us, the mirrors, to shine. He knows what kind of cleaner and what kind of rag to use on us."
- Mother Angelica