“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Mary could have been forgiven for wondering why the God who had caused her to be pregnant could not have timed it all better, or at least arranged for a proper room to be available for her – after all this was His Son! Even Joseph, in the midst of his concerns for his young bride and his frustration at not being able to provide for her, could have been bewildered. God seemed to be absent when they needed Him most –after all, this had been His idea not theirs!
And yet God is not like an anxious and hard-working father desperately trying to finish his work so that the family can leave for their holiday –and then finding he had forgotten to book accommodation. God is God, sovereign and almighty. He knew then, as He knows now, exactly what He was about and He had timed everything perfectly in terms of His own plans and purposes. And, there was accommodation for them – it was just not what they would have expected although it suited God’s purposes admirably. And that really is the point isn’t it?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”(Isaiah 55:8-9)
But, a manger in a stable? Not a particularly pleasant, sweet -smelling or hygienic place – and certainly unlikely to start a new fashion. But then, apart from some of the other interpretations and symbolism, isn’t such a stable rather like the condition of our hearts and lives at times. Very earthy, dung and other bodily discharges staining and tramped into the floor, noisy with the shoving and baying presence of animal-like lusts and desires and the food to feed them, untidy, dark and generally unattractive – to us, to others who might catch a glimpse of them, and certainly to God.
And yet it is here that God chose for Jesus to be born – not in a king’s palace or under the sparkling stars on a fresh-smelling and wind-cleansed mountainside. Here in a stable – because His real ministry would be in the stables of our lives and not in the guest-prepared sitting rooms. And, as He is born into our stables, there is a transformation – light, life, love and beauty enter into our darkness – not with the brutal scrubbing brushes and nose-wrinkling disinfectants of harsh criticism, but with the gentle, smiling, understanding, and loving tears of acceptance, healing and salvation.
Don’t keep Him out of your stable – that was His destination and purpose from the beginning!
Come in Lord Jesus – thank You so very much!
Lord Jesus, be born into all of me and fill me with Your love, light and life now and forever, Amen.