While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Luke 2:6-7 NIV
God’s son is coming to earth and it would appear that God has not reserved him a room. No beautifully decorated nursery. No mention of a doctor or midwife. Why do Mary and Joseph seem to be scrambling to make do, pounding on doors? Why after years of prophecy and promises would God, who can arrange anything, have Jesus arrive so plainly, with most everyone sound asleep, and in their better beds?
I have been in the habit of thinking that things that “appear perfectly arranged” and “decorated” are a mark of God’s sovereignty, a sure set up for something special to happen, a sign God is present and working, or will show up. If I have small provisions, arrive in a plain space, find closed doors or am feeling left out or squeezed out, my first reaction is to think “God can’t possibly be in this.”
But the Christmas story would prove me wrong. Jesus coming, unnoticed by most, to a city of closed doors, that was sovereignty. No reserved room, no decorations, no warm welcome… these faith stretching circumstances were part of God’s sovereign plan. And how encouraging. Because that is life much of the time, filled with situations that don’t measure up in my mind.
Later, we see God’s wisdom peeking through. Later, we understand how this strange “back door” entrance was purposeful (lowly shepherds could approach) and protective (King Herod would kill any threat to his rule).
God knows exactly what he is doing.
If we can believe that God will show up in a manger, we will believe that he can show up in our meager hearts and at our humble gatherings.
Where are you feeling shut out? What appears to not be turning out? How might God be divinely positioning, and protecting, you? Will you trust his Sovereign plan?
“And so with barely a ripple of notice,
God stepped into the warm lake of humanity,
Without protocol and without pretension.
Where you would have expected angels,
there were only flies.
Where you would have expected heads of state
there were only donkeys,
a few haltered cows,
a nervous ball of sheep,
a tethered camel,
and a furtive scurry of curious barn mice.”
-Ken Gire, Moments With the Savior
“Do not despise these small beginnings…” Zechariah 4:10 NLT