It is an often painful fact that our lives seldom go the way we planned. How many of us have the life we pictured at age 20? A well-known quote attributed to Woody Allen says, “if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Most of us aren’t quite that cynical yet it is true that things often don’t turn out the way we’d planned.
In Luke 1 we’re introduced to two women for whom things undoubtedly did not go as planned. There’s Elizabeth (and her husband, Zechariah) who “had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.” Being childless in Israel was considered a disgrace. As a woman of that culture she’d have longed for a child; Luke 1:25 confirms that fact. And then there’s Mary, who was legally pledged to be married to Joseph, but was not yet married to him. God sent Gabriel to tell her that she would conceive of a son by the Holy Spirit, and she would give birth to the Messiah. Two women for whom life wasn’t going as planned. Elizabeth, no doubt, envisioned herself being a mother much earlier in her life. Mary, no doubt, hadn’t planned on being a mother quite yet. Both were obedient to God. Elizabeth obeyed in naming her son John despite the protests of relatives. Mary made the timeless statement of obedience: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
The Son she bore was himself obedient, both to his earthly parents–“and he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them” (Luke 2:51)–and to His heavenly Father–“he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). This was the ultimate act of love and obedience.
Christmas is a beautiful story, and a wonderful time of year. We enjoy the twinkling lights, the bountiful treats, and the gifts that express the joy of relationship. We should not miss, amidst all the trappings, the opportunity, even when things have not gone as planned, to say with Mary, “let it be to me according to your word.”
Chuck Roberts, M.A., LPC-S