Well, best laid plans, and all that. You may have noticed there wasn’t a blog from me last week. I was all ready to write about Bethlehem–
Life took an unexpected turn. Rather than being in my office, writing a brilliant blog to bless you all, I spent the day dealing with health crises for my older brother. It started at 2:30 am with a phone call from emergency services, and I wasn’t done “dealing” until almost 9 pm that night. I actually came home at 8:15 or so, after a fruitless 2 hour search, in the dark, in 32 degrees, for one of his cats that got scared and ran out the door left open by emergency workers. At 8:30 I had just started to eat some dinner (while in the midst of a low sugar thanks to diabetes) when the phone rang. Again. One of my brother’s neighbors had just seen the cat. Could I come back and try to catch him? So I snarfed down my dinner and it was back into my coat and scarf and gloves, back in the car, back to the search by flashlight. And there, under the building, I saw a white furball. Blue, the Persian, staring at me. It took a little while, but I coaxed him out with canned cat food, grabbed him by the scruff, and took him, meowing all the way, back to my brother’s apartment. My brother thanked me. The cat thanked me.
I went home.
Exhausted. Frustrated. Ready to cry. Feeling like a total failure because yet another day during which I’d planned to get a lot of work done, including writing the blog, was lost.
As I’ve processed it all this last week, working through the emotions, God nudged me. And in that moment, understanding dawned.
His advent was unexpected.
Mary didn’t expect to be pregnant before she was married.
Joseph didn’t expect his chosen bride to be pregnant. Least of all with God’s son.
The shepherds didn’t expect to see a multitude of angels on the hillside.
The Israelites didn’t expect their long-awaited King to be born in a stable.
And, in fact, very little of how He works in our lives is as we expect. As we read in Isaiah 55:8 “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’”
Absolutely true. After all, I didn’t expect that my wonderful dad, at 86, would be diagnosed with stomach cancer. I certainly didn’t expect to Don and me to spend our 36th anniversary at the hospital, asking God to take care of my wonderful dad as a surgeon removed 75-80 percent of his stomach. Nor did I expect, three days before Christmas, to be decorating a hospital room for Christmas, or sitting in one to write my blog.
But here’s the thing. In each and every unexpected moment, God has been there. In Mary’s and Joseph’s and the shepherds’ events, God made Himself known through angels. And in each of my unexpected events, He’s done the same. Not through angels, but through my brother being okay, a found cat, a skilled and caring surgeon for my dad, a medical staff that cares for my dad like he’s their own, and, most of all, through the prayers and words of so many of you. In all of these unexpected moments, God’s advent has been alive and well. And that, my friends, is a glorious thing.
So this Christmas, join me in celebrating the unexpectedness of God’s advent. I guarantee you that when we do that, we will find Him present. Loving us. Delivering us. And revealing Himself in ways we never imagined.