FIRST-PERSON: What are you expecting during the holidays?
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--We went to my husband's aunt's home for Thanksgiving lunch. After greeting everyone and checking out the house, four-year-old Derek came and sat on the couch beside me. The other children were playing outside, but Derek was seated serenely, hands folded in his lap, his usual grin on his face.
He seemed to be waiting for something -- there was an air of expectation surrounding his little self. I thought this was strange; Derek has a well-deserved reputation for being a picky eater, and I knew he wasn't anticipating the meal. I looked at him questioningly. He leaned over, keeping his hands folded, looking straight ahead, and he whispered nonchalantly out of the side of his mouth, "Where are the presents?"
Poor Derek thought it was Christmas. What a letdown. I nearly burst out laughing when I realized his confusion, but I tried to gently explain that Christmas was several weeks away and today there wasn't going to be any presents, just food. I'm glad to say that Derek took the news like a champ and was soon outside playing with the others. It wasn't exactly what he had expected, but he adjusted.
Rarely do things go as I expect them to. There have been plenty of times in my life when I've been expecting trimmed trees and exciting gifts and wound up with turkey and heartburn instead. Christmas itself seems to be a time of great expectations that often result in great disappointments. From finding the right gift to planning the perfect family get-together to getting the house decorated to attending all the parties and plays, the season is simply too busy to live up to our Martha Stewart imaginations. How did a simple birthday party get so out of hand?
I wonder what Mary, Jesus' mother, was expecting from her life. What kinds of dreams did she have as a young Jewish teen, engaged and busily planning for her upcoming wedding day? Mary was a willing servant-obedient to the core -- and I certainly don't want to discount that fact. But admittedly, when God called her to receive His plan for her life, it was nothing that she had expected. What can we see in her willingness to accept and believe in His plan over her own? How can we apply her attitude to our own lives? The answers are in Luke 2.
Agree with God's plan. After the angel detailed the upcoming events of Mary's life, Mary said simply, "I am the Lord's servant. . .May it be to me as you have said" (v. 38). Mary aligned herself with God's plan. From the beginning, she didn't waste any time arguing with Him. Why should we do any less? The prophet Jeremiah recorded these words: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future" (Jeremiah 29:11). This verse is a wellspring of assurance for anyone who stands at a crossroads. Agree with God's plan because He desires the best for you.
Seek Godly counsel. God's Word notes twice in the book of Luke that Mary treasured in her heart the incredible events unfolding in her life (v. 2:19, 2:51). I understand that to mean that Mary was a private person. She didn't gab around with her friends. She didn't have to have everyone's opinion about what was going on in her life. Wasn't it a precious gift for the angel to let her know that her cousin Elizabeth was also pregnant? In relaying that news, God provided Mary with a sympathetic confidant. She knew she could talk freely with Elizabeth. In Elizabeth, Mary found a listening ear, a hand to hold, and a mentor to guide her through her pregnancy. Do you seek godly advice when situations arise that you didn't expect? Friends such as Elizabeth are few and far between. If you don't have one, ask God to provide you with a godly friend. He will.
Praise God. Mary praised the Lord in song. She lifted up her voice and sang praises to God for His plan! She realized that His plan for her life was the culmination of His plan for the world. All His plans work together. Our lives are incredibly intertwined by the Master Networker. She knew the Lord. She accepted His plan, and she praised Him. Disappointment cannot live in an attitude of praise.
Maybe you haven't had an angel appear to explain God's plan for your life. Perhaps there have been many changes in your life since last Christmas, and you weren't expecting any of them. Will you agree that in your heart of hearts, you have known the nudging of the Holy Spirit? On certain occasions that He is bringing to mind right now, He has made His Will known, and you have been given a choice. Go along with it, find a prayer partner, and praise God all the way through it. James 1:12 says, "But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God -- the free life! -- even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action" (The Message).
Mary took this attitude and became pregnant with the Son of God. What are you expecting?
Powell is the author of the devotional book "Baby Boot Camp: Surviving the First Six Weeks of Motherhood," available by calling toll-free 1-877-421-READ (7323) or on the Internet at www.rebeccapowell.com.