Many of us have experienced a mess of Christmas proportions. A Christmas event that was planned with good intentions goes awry and becomes a disaster that we laugh about later. Whether it is a Christmas tree on the interstate or a dog that ate the turkey, Christmas has a way of amplifying our emotions, magnifying our feelings, and making mishaps feel like big catastrophes.
Some Christmas messes are nothing to laugh about. Tension in the family becomes Christmas day arguments. Financial stress comes to a head in the face of Christmas gift pressures. Christmas can be filled with magic and wonder and delight, but it can also bring some messes of its own.
In the first Christmas story, Joseph finds himself with a big mess on his hands. He learns that his fiancé is pregnant and he knows that the baby is not his. Joseph lives in a culture where at best this could mean public disgrace for his beloved fiancé and it worst it could mean her death.
Mary tries to explain, “I was visited by an angel, he said I was highly favored, he said the baby would be the Son of God”, but I’m guessing Joseph’s ears stopped working when he heard “I’m pregnant.” He is looking at a mess, a disaster, and it is no laughing matter.
Joseph returns home and makes a plan. Lesser men would have left her to what was coming to her, but Joseph makes a plan to get himself out of this marriage with every hope of protecting Mary’s dignity and life.
But when he falls asleep that night, “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1.20-21
Joseph learns what I think is a very important Christmas lesson. One that we should take note of when we see the messes and disasters in our lives. The lesson is this: Often we make a plan for our lives only to find out that God has an even better one in mind!
Joseph had made the best plan he could muster in the face of the mess that had been given him. God had an even better plan for him.
Amazingly, Joseph gets up the next morning and does just what was outlined for him in God’s plan. He takes Mary home as his wife. Because Joseph was open to and listened to God’s word in his life he was ushered into the story of God saving His people from their sins.
It is easy in the busyness and activity of the Christmas season to pretend that everything is ok, when it’s not; to pretend that everything is nice and neat in our lives when really we have some messes that need attention. The Christmas story invites us not to hide these things from God but to bring our plans to God and be open to the new and better one He has for our lives.
As you make plans for this Christmas, I encourage you to be open to and listen to what God has to say to you. You just might find that He has for you an even better plan than you ever imagined.