ALL IN GOD’S PLAN
“…there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed… And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem…” (from Luke 2:1-4)
All in God’s plan. Everyone’s day-to-day life was upset by this decree; it seems that God wanted the whole world turned upside down for the birth of His Son! All over the known world folks had to make a journey to the place of their birth.
Just like today. The Christ-child wants to be born in our hearts, but before that can happen our whole life must be turned upside down. That which we hold in high esteem must come crashing to the ground. The way that we would most despise–the way of humility–must become the only one we want to take.
That which is hidden deep within us must be brought to the Light. In a sense we come back to the place of our birth and realize that we were on the wrong path right from the start – and this time we choose His way because it will take us were we really want to go.
“And Joseph also went up…with Mary, his espoused wife…”
All in God’s plan. Joseph and Mary had a destiny. God watched over them as they journeyed among the crowds of people. To fulfill His promise to His servant David, His Son must be born in Bethlehem. Did they sense what an important part they would have in history? Who could have known that what happened to those two ordinary, humble people in an insignificant village would change many people’s lives the world over?
Just like today. God has made His promise to man that “whosoever will may come” and He intends to fulfill this in our lives. He watches as we journey among the crowds of people and slowly He brings us to a crossroads, a place of choosing. Then, if we then choose to walk with Him, the Christ-child is born in our hearts. This gives us a destiny–and how can we know what an important part we may play in changing the course of other people’s lives?
“…Because there was no room for them in the inn.”
All in God’s plan. Not just so people could fault the poor innkeeper all these years for being so hard-hearted. Rather, it seems that God did not want His Son to be born in the inn — as a GUEST — perhaps in the company of the important and well-to-do. In His birth Jesus had not even a room or a bed and in the years of His ministry He had no place to lay His head. He was totally an outsider in this world.
Just like today. Each year at Christmas the normal events of life are disrupted for a season as folks go to and fro, buying gifts, decorating houses and stores, traveling home to their families, gathering for feasting, partying, and generally making merry. But the work God seeks to do in our hearts is something apart from all this. He comes quietly, at any time of the year, whenever a seeking soul opens his heart to Jesus.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to Him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
It seems that our heart is not like an inn where there is room for many guests and we give Jesus the most important room. Rather, it is like a small place–with only one room. We even have to move out ourselves if we want to let Jesus have it! Then when He moves in He fills it with His love and it begins to expand so that we have room and love for all where once we invited only a favoured few.
“And she brought forth her firstborn son…and laid him in a manger…” (Luke 2:7)
All in God’s plan. We know what a king and a throne are supposed to look like. We can imagine what sort of a palace a king would build for his honor and majesty. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty…” (I Cor. 1:27)
He saw that this dirty stable filled with the smell of hay and animals was the perfect place for His Son to be born. It was the touch of His love that made this a glorious place, fit for the King of Kings that this little child would become.
Just like today. What is our heart that the King should make it His home? We have no fancy palace to offer, yet He chooses “this vessel of clay” to dwell in. It is only the touch of His love that gives our life its ‘glory’. He wants it this way.
Years before–maybe 10, 50, or 100–human hands had built this little stable and God tenderly oversaw the work, knowing that His Son would be born there. Did the builders ever have such a thought? Did they make careful plans, sawing and planing the boards so that it would look its best, or did they just slap it together haphazardly, hoping it would hold together and serve the purpose?
Did a skilled carpenter build the little manger where Jesus laid His head, or did they give the boards to some amateur and tell him to throw together something that would hold feed and hay? None of this is recorded, only that Jesus was born there. But don’t you think God looked kindly on that little stable that would someday shelter His Son?
Just like today. From our birth God has been watching tenderly our ‘putting together’. All the while we were developing physically and emotionally it was His plan that His Son should be born within us. Some of us were brought up with tender care and prayer by diligent parents, while others were sort of tossed together by sad circumstances, maybe by the rough hands of impatient parents who just wanted to get the job done and out of the way, with no definite plan other than that we should someday stand on our own two feet.
Sometimes we think the result looks pretty worthless, yet God has planned that each life should become the palace of the King and reflect His glory. How many people suffer all their lives from low self-esteem or even rebel against themselves and what they are, not comprehending that the Christ Child is to be born within? Not knowing that they’re designed to be transformed into His image and filled with His glory?
“And there were in the same country shepherds…keeping watch over their flocks by night…” (Luke 2:8)
All in God’s plan. Jesus could have been born in the daytime, but the Bible account give us the impression that His was born after the sunset of a long weary day. In the midst of a dark world and a nation oppressed the Light came forth.
Just like today. Jesus is not born into our hearts when life is wonderful and things are going great. He is born in the darkness of our sin and despair, when we see our great need of Him–when we realize that we have no hope in ourselves.
“The shepherds said to one another, Let us go now… and see this thing which has come to pass…And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying…” (Luke 2:15, 17)
All in God’s plan. The message came to them and this in turn made them messengers, heralds of the glad tidings. They went and made known to other people like themselves that Jehovah had remembered His people, that Messiah had come.
Just like today. When we have received the message and met the Son of God we become the heralds of this good news, too. “Yea, necessity is laid upon me,” says the Apostle Paul. “Woe unto me if I preach not the Gospel.”
“There came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews…” (Matt. 2:2)
All in God’s plan. All the Jews were waiting for this great event. Now here came these foreigners to tell them Messiah was born. Scribes and educated men that they were, they should have been the first to know!
“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. (I Cor. 1:19)
That the despised Gentiles should be telling them what was going on under their wise noses was a real slap in the face – and God meant it to be. It was a warning to them that something was wrong, that they had no spiritual vision.
Just like today. We can be assured that God will find some way to let us know what is going on within us, even if it comes like a slap in the face that tells us we are not so wise as we thought. It is meant to wake us up, to show us that we have lost our spiritual discernment.
“And, lo, the star which they saw in the East went before them…and when they saw the star they rejoiced…” (Matt. 2:9-10)
All in God’s plan. Somehow these men from far away knew of the prophecy: a star which would foretell the birth of ‘the King of the a Jews’. When they saw the star appear they followed common sense–they went to the palace where a king would sensibly be born. They came as far as their own wisdom could take them; once they had exhausted that, the star went before them and led them to Jesus.
Just like today. Our common sense may be useful. It may bring us part of the way, but it will never take us all the way to Jesus because it is only earthly. When it comes to a spiritual journey God’s Holy Spirit must become the ‘guiding star’ of our life. “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right, and when ye turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21
“And when they were come..they saw the young child…and…presented unto him gifts…” (Matt 2:11)
All in God’s plan: to provide for the needs of the holy family while they were fugitives in Egypt; to honor His Son and to anoint Him for His role in life.
Just like today. There are many people watching and longing for the Christ to be born in us and when they see the signs, they come and rejoice with us, bringing us precious gifts to help us along in Christian life. Gifts like godly wisdom, guidance, encouragement, love, patience, good examples.
God had a plan so long ago and it seems to be an example of the new life we can receive within us today. Will we take our place in His plan?
by Christine Goodnough
Published in the Oct ‘95 issue of Canaquest Friendship newsletter for women