OUR INCONVENIENT GOD
By Jacquelin Stoner
Read: Luke 1-2
Reflect: Have you ever attempted to take this account of a teenaged unwed mother and put flesh on it. The girl’s a virgin and in obedience and innocence Mary accepts the words of an angel that she will become pregnant and carry the Son of God, Jesus. How did she ever break that news to her family who had been anticipating a secure life for their daughter with her upcoming marriage to the carpenter, Joseph. Was it over a supper of meatloaf that she told her parents of her pregnancy and that no, Joseph was not the father, but God was the father? How did her parents receive that crazy news?? No wonder Mary left her home to stay with her elderly cousin Elizabeth who had her own unusual pregnancy. Barren, elderly Elizabeth had become pregnant long after those hopes of becoming a mother had died on the vine. Of all people, Elizabeth should have been able to understand Mary’s predicament and to comfort her. Elizabeth had personally come to know the Inconvenient God, the God Who doesn’t necessarily behave according to our own personal expectations.
Then we have the entire awkward situation where Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, had to have his own visit from an angel to tell him his part of the story. Joseph had already heard from the grapevine that Mary was pregnant and he knew the baby wasn’t his. He truly cared for Mary and had been considering quietly divorcing her (an engagement was a marriage contract and had to be legally broken). The normal brutal disgrace of a pregnancy like this would have been to take Mary out of the village and to stone her to death. However, Joseph took by faith the words of the angel and continued this very unconventional engagement. (Matthew 1:20-25)
And then we come to God moving world events to engineer the circumstances of this most unusual birth. God gives the leader of the Roman world, Caesar Augustus, the idea that there should be a census whereas everyone in the entire Roman world would have to make way to their ancestral hometowns to register. Of course, the census was for tax purposes, but it still was a major travel hardship for a huge number of people. So, Mary in her final stages of pregnancy left her hardscrabble tiny hometown of Nazareth to accompany her finance, Joseph to his ancestral town of Bethlehem. There was no baby shower for Mary, no gender reveal party, no decorating of the baby’s room. Mary’s mom and dad are never mentioned in the story. Possibly they felt relief that their daughter was leaving their small town so they wouldn’t have to constantly hear the shameful whispers regarding their daughter and her pregnancy. God again was not making things convenient.
For those of you moms out there, can you imagine making a journey on a donkey in the last month of your pregnancy with a man who is not the father of your child to a town in which you don’t know anyone? There was no lovely Sheraton Hotel to greet them in Bethlehem. In fact, there was no place for them to stay in this dirt town busting to the seams with people arriving for the census. So, the miracle is that the innkeeper took pity on them and let them stay in a cave that housed their animals. When the labor pains began, there was no peaceful birthing suite for Mary, the mother of the Savior of the world. There isn’t even mention of a midwife. There was just a cave filled with animals, a torch for light, a fiancé in attendance, and a feeding trough for a cradle. Possibly it was at this point the enormity and loneliness of Mary and Joseph’s obedience to God hit them both. And what does God do? He sends a multitude of angels to a group of nobodies, shepherds, to announce the birth of His Son Jesus. We read that a crowd of strangers runs to the cave and these unexpected visitors are the ones thrilled down to their toes about the birth of Jesus. God brings comfort for Joseph and Mary, but especially for Mary because the Scripture says Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. This was probably the time when Mary’s heart was most on empty and she needed God Himself to show her that all the pain had been worth it. Little Mary was just a teenager who was willing to go way out on a limb in order to obey God. Never in this account is anything convenient, normal, and easy.
Apply: So these days, has your God made life smooth and hassle free for you? Have you gone through 2020 without a care in the world or has your life been quite challenging and has God been asking you to endure, obey, and take by faith that He is there in the midst of it? Maybe you have felt alone in your own cave of isolation while world events have become stranger and stranger. If so, then take heart from a lovely teenaged girl. God is still in control and the words of that angel choir are still true today, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” The beauty of God is that He made the worst birth story become the best story. Our Inconvenient God brought beauty out of ashes.
Jacqui Stoner is a committed Christ follower has a great love of people, passion for communicating, and she treasures creativity. She is a Christian Life Coach, helping women navigate transitions https://leaningforwardwithjoy.com/ As you can tell, life is never boring with Jacqui. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org