Man plans and God laughs!
So many times throughout life we can say, "this was not the plan!" If I look at my own journey I truly didn't plan so much of what I've experienced, but yet, so much of what I have experienced is so much better than what I had planned.
I didn't plan that I would start multiple businesses.
I didn't plan to divorce.
I didn't plan to raise three girls alone for 18 years.
I didn't plan to lose everything I own in a house fire and then to be homeless.
I didn't plan heartbreak after heartbreak after heartbreak.
I didn't plan setback after setback after setback.
And I certainly didn't plan the joy, strength, beauty, and character I built and acquired after choosing to participate in each of those stories and each perfectly unplanned experience. The participation built the perseverance and the perseverance created the blessing.
2020 is the banner year for the unplanned. My year is not ending as it started. And it didn't start the way I planned. But wow, did it ever live up to my 2020 word of the year. Behold! So many plot twists. So many shocking turn of events. So many beautiful blessings that I am ending the year in awe of. As we come to Christmas, there is another who had the unexpected, unplanned, uncharted paths to navigate.
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:26-35
So that escalated quickly! In one conversation, Mary's life took a dramatic turn for the extraordinary. This was an unplanned severe interruption.
Confused and disturbed! Wait! I have favor with God? Throne? A king? A kingdom? How?
You can relate, right? I mean we have all had those gut punches that took our breath away and left us staggering in disbelief and shock. Those life moments can take days and weeks, sometimes months to wrap our brains around. Like Mary we have all received a complication that was going to drastically change life as we knew it.
Mary had to know the punishment for an unplanned, unwed pregnancy was death by stoning. She had to know that Joseph, the man to whom she was promised to be wed would have so, so many questions and doubts about her story. She had to know that she was going to be talked about, shunned, and mocked. But did she know that while her world was heading in a very different direction than what she planned, she was saying yes to the most magnificent joy the entire world would ever know? A while she was highly favored by God, (her circumstances certainly did not reflect that) Mary's unplanned path was perfectly planned by God.
And just like Mary, we often find ourselves in the messy middle. A place that doesn't make sense or seem to have a purpose and the only logical question is "why" when our plans are so severely interrupted.
The Christmas story reminds us of something else as well. It reminds us that perfect faith is not faith that moves God. No. Perfect faith is faith that moves us to trust God when He doesn't seem to be moving. Or when he seems to be moving in the wrong direction.
In order to navigate an unplanned path, we have to trust that God's ways are higher than ours, that His plans are better than ours, and that His will for our lives is more beautiful than ours. He actually goes a step further. He invites us into His plan and purpose and we choose to participate or not. Like Mary did.
When the angel delivered the unsettling news that her life was about to be permanently interrupted, Mary says: "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." Luke 1:38 I can imagine her thinking "this is not what I planned or how envisioned my life as a mother and a wife, none of this was in the picture...but, I am the Lord's servant..." even though it disrupts the future I had planned.
Mary's story tells us that life is not as random as it may appear. There is a divine story going on. And if we choose, and if we believe, and if we trust, we can participate in it. Mary, a teenage girl, modeled the way forward for all of us. She shows us that our faith and trust is not in vain and that we are in good company when life seems to veer off course. Our faith is not in faith. Our faith is in our risen savior, who came into this world like each of us... to be one of us...to save all of us. And that was God's plan all along.