And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
We tend to glorify the idea of a calling. Being chosen by God seems like a grand purpose, elevating us above the normal circumstances of life. It simply isn’t true. This false filter causes us to see the events in our lives with a distorted view. Knowing God called us for a purpose and we are part of God’s plan, we assume things will be wonderful and easy. We set ourselves up for devastating disappointment with these false conceptions.
God chose Mary and Joseph to have and raise the Son of God. Angels appeared to them. It seems so grand and glorious. But God never promised them it would be easy. He never gave them false hope in a perfect path.
Mary and Joseph set out for Bethlehem to fulfill their legal obligation appear in person for the census. They undoubtedly knew Mary could give birth any time. It wasn’t going to be easy.
Bethlehem was swarming with people who had converged on their ancestral home, the City of David, for the census. The Bethlehem inns were full. People were camping out wherever they could—the town square, the synagogue, and the courtyards of businesses. The swarms of people were like locusts descending on Bethlehem.
In desperation, Joseph must have told an innkeeper, “Please help us. My fiancé is in labor. We need somewhere for her to give birth—somewhere warm and comfortable, with a bit of privacy.”
The innkeeper had compassion and led them around back to the stable. He quickly shoveled the horse dung out of a stall and put fresh hay in there for the expecting mother. “I’m sorry. It’s the best I can do for you.”
“It will be fine,” said Mary as Joseph eased her into the fresh hay.
The barn was filthy and smelled like donkeys, horses, cows, and dung. Germs and bacteria (from the animals and dung) would have been a danger to both mother and child in childbirth. It was not where one would hope to give birth to any baby, especially the Son of God.
God chose Mary and Joseph. They still had to work through the difficult, dirty details.
In our own lives, we think God’s calling and purpose for our lives means we won’t have to deal with unpleasant, difficult details on the way. If God’s in it, we reason, God will make it happen easily. But God’s calling doesn’t mean he will make it easy. It means he has chosen us to be strong enough to work through the details with him.
Thank you, Lord, for trusting me with being part of your perfect plan. Please help me to accept that you have chosen me to deal with the difficulties that I’ll encounter along the way. I know you are with me and living your life through me so help me relax when I face difficulties, knowing you will work through me to resolve problems and endure hardship. I know fulfilling your calling for me won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
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