The Christmas story is a story of life taking an unforeseen turn. This young couple had plans, hopes, and dreams. I imagine that they spent hours talking about their future, dreaming of life after marriage. They were walking down a familiar and well trod path, until the angel Gabriel appeared and sent their lives skidding off in another direction.
God’s plan for their lives, introduced conflict and confusion into their relationship, their community, and their own sense of the future. He walked with them, protecting their fragile hope and making a way through very difficult circumstances. His path for them included suspicion and doubt, a difficult journey to Bethlehem, and eventual exile to Egypt. None of that was in their plans. This was not an easy path, in fact most of the path was hidden from sight. They put one foot in front of the other and simply walked it out. God provided, lead, and guided but they were required to walk, to listen, to learn, to trust.
I don’t like interruptions. In fact, I hate them. I get all panicky when I feel trapped and can’t see a clear way forward. I don’t like walking not knowing where we are going, or what to expect on the way. In fact, I love a really clear itinerary and a minute by minute plan. I am a joy to travel with. I have not always been a happy traveller as I have followed God’s winding path for our lives.
Illness changed the trajectory of our lives and led us to a life of ministry and sacrifice
Education brought new opportunities and challenges
Difficulty and loss brought us to places we couldn’t have imagined
Ministry opportunities introduced us to joy we’ve never known
Death brought both grief and eventually new life
Ours has been a winding path of grief and joy, loss and love. We have not had a clear sense of where we are going, and often the path has been hidden. It’s probably best. I wouldn’t have gone along with most of it. Looking back it is easy to see the ways we’ve been supported, encouraged, sustained, and protected. In the moment, it was harder to trust these things. I am so grateful that God did not leave me to my little dreams and tiny plans. Walking this path has introduced me to so much more… His interruptions are the stuff of life.