Advent 3: Willing

When I think of Mary and Joseph I am struck by their willingness to participate in God’s drama as it unfolded.

First, consider Joseph. In Matthew’s account, Joseph nearly steps out of the story. From a cultural perspective, he was well within his rights to do so. To chose not to would go against everything that was expected of him. But God sends an angel and we read in Matthew 1:24 how Joseph awoke and obeyed what the angel commanded.

He didn’t have to, but he was willing.

Then we have Mary. A young girl. Betrothed. An angel appears to her and tells her what is about to happen. We’re told that Mary was troubled by the very presence and greeting of the angel. The angel tells her not to be afraid and then gives her the plan.

What amazes me is that she doesn’t even question him. Her response: I’m your servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.

What is God asking of you? Does it seem too big? Are you frightened of the consequences? Does it fly in the face of convention and expectation? If so, you are in good company.

What he did for Mary and Joseph, he will do for: he will be with you every step of the way!

An old saying that has proven true in my own life seems to fit here: God’s will won’t take you where his grace can’t keep you.

Are you willing?

Wondering and Wandering to Christmas: Are You Feeling Lucky?

During my years of pastoral ministry, I had the privilege of working as assistant pastor to an extremely gifted man, Lester Clark. I learned so much from him. One of the things that shapes who I am and how I function can be directly attributed to Pastor Clark’s teaching. He didn’t believe in luck. He was so convinced on this matter that he didn’t call carry-in dinners Pot Lucks, he called them Pot Blessings.

Luck is defined as “a combination of circumstances, events, etc., operating by chance to bring good or ill to a person” (dictionary.com). Synonyms for luck include: happenstance, karma, and fortuitousness. For me the reason I don’t believe in luck is in the essence or definition: the idea of chance. Chance meeting. What are the chances of that happening?

If we believe in luck, then we would believe that it was fortuitous that Mary was betrothed to kind-hearted Joseph, a man who would go completely against the norm and go ahead and take her as his wife. We consider them quite fortunate for having shown up at the only inn with a stable still available and an inn keeper’s wife with a conscience when it came to sending a woman about to deliver out into the night. I don’t believe it was luck. I believe was God was working all things for good.

Another place where I don’t see luck, but rather see God is in the ways our paths cross at just the right time with people who touch and change our lives. When I was teaching classes in my last job, I would share with the class at the outset that I didn’t know why we were together, but that I completely believe that God put us there on purpose and for a purpose. I would refer to 1 Corinthians 12:18b: God has put each part just where he wants it (NLT).

Are you feeling lucky, or blessed? How do you look at and consider the circumstances of your life? Have you missed any divine appointments lately? Have you snarled about an inconvenience or interruption recently instead of considering God was working for your good or the good of someone around you? Consider changing your perspective and don’t leave anything to chance.