Mary’s Blessed Inconvenient Time at Christmas
Written December 2018
The word inconvenient is defined as not easily accessible or at hand; inopportune; untimely; or not suiting one’s needs or purposes. It is a word we use when something interrupts our plans or throws our schedules into disarray. We use it when the store or restaurant we want to go to is out of the way and a hassle to drive to. We use the word inconvenient to describe the things that slow us down, make us wait, or might ruin our whole day.
We don’t use the word when we are happy or joyful. Inconvenient is seldom found in the same sentence as relaxing, efficient, quick, or blissful. It’s companions are usually hassel, annoyed, angry, and frustrated. It is a word that we reserve for speaking of things negatively and to describe our disappointment with the circumstances that have come into our lives. The big question is why in the world have I paired it with Mary and Christmas?
Christmas is that time of year that people look forward to and eagerly welcome. We anxiously await the time in which we will open presents, spend time with family, and get to see loved ones who have traveled from afar to be together at our homes. Many countdown the days to put up Christmas decorations while others don’t even bother ever taking them down because they love Christmas time so much. So how can I put such a negative word next to such a positive time of year?
Well, if we look at the events building up to the very first Christmas, specifically those in Mary’s life. There were inconvenience after inconvenience which led up to birth of Christ. The amazing wonder of these events, though, is that God used them to orchestra the coming of His Son, our Savior, into the world. Through this we can see the blessed inconvenient time of Christmas.
I think it is important that we do this because I guarantee that in the coming days as we anxiously await Christmas morning something will come and inconvenience your life. It might be that person that cuts in front of you while you are in line at Target. It could be an unexpected car repair, or having to go to the emergency room. It could be that unexpected guest that shows up at your door with a huge crisis but whatever it is I hope we can look at these events as blessings from God and see that these things can be the hand of God moving in our lives for a purpose greater than anything we can see.
What I would like to do is go through the events found in Luke chapter 1 and see how inconvenient they were, how they threw a huge monkey wrench into Mary’s life, and finally see the amazing hand of God at work. I hope also to be able to share some amazing insights on how God brings and works through the inconveniences of our lives.
Here is the account of the Angel Gabriel coming to Mary, announcing that she had been chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus.
Luke 1:26-37 (ESV) 26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God. 36And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.”
In the space of just a few moments Mary had her entire world turned upside down. Most likely a teenager at this she is engaged to marry a good man, Joseph, and start her life. She and her family had probably discussed wedding plans and had made arrangements for the wedding celebration. Plans of who to invite and what to serve and ten thousand other things that go along with planning a wedding were now upended because God chose her to do something vitally important. She was chosen to carry in her womb the Savior of the world.
Was this inopportune or untimely for Mary? Absolutely, this did not fit into any of her plans. In fact it took her life in an utterly different direction from here on out. When she broke the news to Joseph his plan was to break the engagement quietly and leave her as a single mother. We can only imagine the bitter tears and heartache she felt in that moment. I imagine that her family and friends all had their questions and doubts. This plan of God was stripping her away from the life she had tried to build and had hoped for. Her plans, dreams, and aspirations were now in shambles.
Yet in the midst of this inconvenient, life changing chaos God was clearly moving and using Mary. I love Mary’s response to the angel’s declaration.
Luke 1:38 38And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
Rather than rejecting all of what God wanted her to do and try to reclaim the normalcy of her life Mary said I will gladly accept this change in my life. Rather than being bitter that her life was upended she was humbled by the call on her life to do this great work.
When you look at it, there were some tremendously difficult situations that they had to overcome. The ridicule of those around them, the rumors that probably abounded about who the father really was. The journey to Bethlehem and then escape to Egypt. Life for awhile was difficult. However what an amazing life Mary was able to live. She was there as the Son of God came into this world, saw His miracles, heard His teachings, saw His death and knew of His resurrection, though Scripture does not record a time where Mary saw Christ after His resurrection it is completely possible that she did witness the risen Christ.
Though, at first, there was an inconvenience God knew exactly what He was doing in bringing His Son into this world. Mary through her humility and willingness to allow God to work through her was able to be part of the greatest events in history. It is because she was willing and obedient to the call of God that we know her name, that she is admired, and her life is an example to us all of Godliness.
In looking at these events I think it is important to notice some principles to remember when inconveniences come our way and God knocks on the door of our life requesting our help.
The first is this, many times the inconveniences of life are simply God opening a door for you to minister in His name. For Mary it was a life changing event for others it is a rude person that is in need of a little love. I remember one summer when Allison, Grace, and I were going to the beach.
We had been on the road maybe 45 minutes when traffic stopped on Interstate 40. As far as I could see there was nothing but cars and this was frustrating me to no end. Little did I know then that this was an opportunity in disguise. Rather than staying in the traffic and getting more disturbed and angry I pulled off and went to Chick-fil-a. I made a decision that I was not going to allow this inconvenience to ruin our family time together so we pulled off and had a great early dinner where we played games and talked and relaxed. Had I stayed in traffic we probably would have had a bad time driving to the beach. Had I not pulled off I was have missed the blessing of being together with my family in a great atmosphere.
The next time inconvenience comes your way let me encourage you to look at those times with different eyes and ask God what door are you opening up for me to walk through? Where is the ministry opportunity in all this?
I believe that far too often we slam the door of God’s opportunities because they are wrapped in the paper of inconvenience.
Another principle we can notice here is that, God’s calling on our life, though inconvenient, is an acknowledgement that God desires to use us and we are qualified to do His will.
Mary’s reaction to the angels in Luke 1 is very interesting.
Luke1:28-29 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.
When we think about important, Godly, A-list Bible heroes Mary is usually the first lady that comes to our minds. Not only was she the mother of Christ she was called highly favored by an angel delivering a message from God Himself. Yet when this announcement comes the Scriptures say she was troubled. Now I am sure part of this was because she was standing in the presence of Gabriel and angels were at this time did not have the reputation of being divine messages of good news.
In the Old Testament they did that on occasion but usually they were warriors who were agents of the wrath of God.
I would like to speculate that Mary was troubled, at least in part, by another thought, and that is God couldn’t possible use someone like me. I know that sounds crazy when we are talking about one of the great people of the Bible but isn’t that a common thought we all have when God wants to use us in some way?
God I’m not smart enough. God I’m not good enough. God I’m not qualified to do that. God I’m …………. Fill in the blank with whatever comes to mind. Moses did it when God wanted to send Him to Egypt. Gideon did it when God wanted Him to lead the armies of Israel. Countless other people do it everyday when God comes knocking and says I want you to work for Me.
I suspect Mary thought the same things we do. I’m nobody special. I’m not qualified. I am have done too many bad things in my life to be used by You. All the same things we say. You see at this point in time there was only one thing we know that could be pointed out that was special about Mary. She was of the house and lineage of David. We know that through the genealogy provided in Luke’s Gospel. Mary was not royalty, she was not rich, she had not done anything in her life to become famous. She was as normal as you or I. The thing that changed her life and that changes our life is the invitation of God to be part of His amazing plan
That invitation came with an inconvenience but with it was an acknowledgement and desire from God to use Mary in His work. The same type of invitation is given to us, many times when inconveniences come our way.
Those times when the chance comes to witness to someone at work or at a chance meeting in the mall. It takes our time doesn’t fit into our hectic schedule but it is God’s glorious inconvenience meant to bring an eternal reward. It is God’s invitation to minister in His name and it is a resounding acknowledgement from the throne of heaven that God was prepared us and qualified us to minister in His name. What a glorious thing inconveniences are to remind us of our calling in life!
1 Corinthians 12:12-13; 27 12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
Thirdly, I believe we can learn that God’s calling on our life, though inconvenient, is an invitation to change the world. Mary was being invited to be part of the story that world change very face of the earth we lived, carrying the Child whose name would be proclaimed in every continent and in every country in the world, and known more than any other person in history.
God’s call was follow My plan and allow Me to inconvenience your life for a little while and I will change the course of history. And she did. Imagine if we all, the next time we have a divine inconvenience come our way we said Ok God how can I glorify You?
We might not change the fabric of history but I guarantee we would change the world in the eyes of those we minister to and by doing so would change the world in which we live. When we think about changing the world our minds go to things like finding the cure for cancer or ending world hunger. However, we shouldn’t isolate these mammoth tasks as being the only things that can change the world. World changing actions can be as simple as buying someone lunch or taking time out to pray for a need in someone’s life. Back in high school a friend of mine worked as a meter reader for Duke Power. His job was fairly simple, he had a route went from house to house and took the readings from the power meetings at each home. One day while he was on his route he met a guy needing some help. Someone had gotten stuck in the mud and needed to be dragged out. My friend offered to help by taking a chain and hooking onto the stuck vehicle and pulling it out with his truck.
The guy that was stuck was appreciative of his help but didn’t want to use the chain because he had a small come along. My friend was skeptical but went along. Sure enough the small unit broke and the car was still stuck. It was after that my friend brought out the chain and easily pulled the car out of the mud.
It was at this point in the story everything changed. You see, my friend was annoyed at the inconvenience of having to take so long to do a simple task. He then realized that getting the task done was not the point. The man was lonely. He intentionally wanted to use a come along that would break to have a few more moments to talk with someone. He had recently lost his wife and had no family or friends around to talk to or interact with. He was genuinely alone in this world so the chance opportunity to talk to someone was a glorious opportunity.
Once my friend knew this his attitude changed and was able to have a meaningful conversation that blessed this man and genuinely helped him. He didn’t change the world as we know it that day but what he did meant the world to a lonely gentleman just wanting a friend.
Inconveniences are God’s knock on our lives to invite us to help change the world. The pressing issue we have to look inside ourselves to resolve is whether or not we are embracing these chances or pushing them aside as bothersome and annoying to our lives. How much of the world could we have changed if we just took some time out of our days to help another through our inconvenience? How many souls could have heard the gospel or seen and felt a little of Christ’s love?
The final principle I believe we can notice is that God’s inconveniences are worth it. For Mary, Christ was ushered into the world and redemption was offered to all mankind. For the little boy who gave up his lunch He saw Jesus feed over 5,000 people. For Gideon he saw His people have victory over their oppressors. For Noah, he and his family survived God’s wrath on this earth. For Jonah, he saw the mercy of God poured out onto a wicked people that repented.
The Bible is filled with example after example of God bringing inconvenient circumstances into the lives of His people, asking them to allow Him the opportunity to work and do something amazing.
Every time someone said yes, the power of God was seen and the world was changed.
When inconvenience comes knocking on your door next time, what will your answer be.
Most gracious and loving Heavenly Father, thank you for the inconveniences that pepper our lives with invitations from You to minister in Your name. Thank You for these chances that we have to help change the world. Please forgive us when our tempers and our nerves are so shot that we push aside these chances and chalk them up as annoyances that we could do without. Help us Lord, to see the chances you give and embrace the chaos that You bring into our lives and reflect Christ in our actions and words, that though our lives You might bring glory to Your Name. Amen