As I read my Christmases past, it becomes apparent that they have not all been picture perfect. Time tends to shadow the sadness that surfaced during our holidays, the separations we experienced, the sickness that kept loved ones away, the death that left a place at the table permanently empty, the problems that were only magnified during the stress of the season.
Looking at our last Christmas entries, I am glad God did not give me a glimpse of the coming year, of what lay ahead for us in 2011. I think I may have gone back to bed, covered my head with the blanket wanting to stay until the year was over.
Perhaps your year has been something like that.
For certain 2011 did not go according to my plan.
My plan was to accomplish many things, to be successful in my undertakings, to finish projects, to excel and experience happiness in all my endeavors and relationships. I had it all written down.
I didn’t have any room in my plans for operations, hospital stays, extensive care-giving, or learning how to live with our grandchildren so far away.
Reading the account of Jesus birth in the books of Matthew and Luke, I see something that resembles my own life. The characters of this story had plans. Mary and Joseph had plans for a marriage and a happy productive life. Zachariah and Elizabeth had plans to live out their old age in quietness and service.
Mary and Joseph’s plans were disrupted by an unexpected miracle pregnancy, by the decree to go to Bethlehem and then the urgent warning to flee to Egypt. I feel sure it was not the simple life in Nazareth they had envisioned.
Zachariah and Elizabeth were not expecting to be parents in their old age when strength and vigor were waning, when keeping up with a lively toddler would take more energy than they could muster on any given day.
Yet . . . it was God’s plan.
My morning Bible reading recently took me to Micah chapter 4. Verse 12 was the one that caught my attention:
“But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither do they understand His plan . . . “
Ain’t it the truth?
I know the verses that say our ways are not God’s ways, that His thoughts are far above our thoughts. It’s just that I want to make sense of what happens to me and to the people I love. I want to understand the “why” of it. If I did, maybe I could accept it more easily.
But alas, that is not the case in almost all of my unexpected interruptions whether it is a minor irritation or an extremely painful life change.
I am required to trust when it is dark and I cannot see the way ahead, when taking the next step is scary and I don’t know how to do it.
“Who among you fears the Lord, listening to the voice of His Servant?
Who among you walks in darkness, and has no light?
Let him trust in the name of Yahweh; let him lean on his God.” Isiah 50:10
Even in my confusion, I find there is always an answer in the Word. It may not explain all the details, the whys and wherefores I want to know. But it does tell me what to do until the day when all things will be made clear.
Until then, there are some things I need to learn:
To wait with expectant hope
To learn contententment whether I have plenty or not
To give thanks in all my circumstances
Tall orders for this sojourner. I am willing to walk in the dark as long as I don’t walk alone, as long as my God goes with me, goes before me and prepares the way.
It’s okay that I don’t have all the answers. I know the One who does.
If you have had an “Unplanned Year” like me, leave a comment. Let’s learn to trust Him together.