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.
Beautiful post! Hugs and prayers for you and your family.
I don’t want to make you feel you let us all down, but it was a disappointment not to see your blog post last week. That’s just because you usually give us something so worth considering that we miss it when it isn’t there. I’m glad there was a happy ending to your brother’s problem. Many of us who’ve never met you in person are praying for you.
Feliz Navidad expresses my wishes for everyone here better than Merry Christmas. It’s too easy to lose focus with the English version, where the “Christ-mass” is reduced too often to an Xmas. “Nativity” is the whole point. May you have a blessed celebration of Jesus’s nativity this year!
“We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 4:8b-9 NLT)
Praying for you during this holiday season, Karen!
Karen, Your words are always a blessing and even more so this week! Praying for your family today. May God give you special blessings this Christmas season.
You blessed me today, Karen. Just yesterday my husband and I were on our way to tape our TV program. I’d spent money on hair, makeup, nails, and clothing for the show. His COPD acted up, and we had to turn around and go home – my makeup smeared with tears. Had to pay our production assistant for no work getting done. And we will now definitely not meet the deadline we had to get this show on air.
Thank you for reminding me that I’m not the only one facing family health issues this Christmas, and helping me not feel sorry for myself. Thank you for reminding me that those who experienced the first Christmas had it much tougher than any of us.
Thank you for reminding us all what Christmas is about, and how God’s unexpectedness can turn into the greatest of gifts.
I was blessed by reading your post this morning. With all the ‘to-dos’ at this time of year, God’s will continues to over ride our best of intentions to get things done.
Thank you for sharing what God’s wisdom revealed to you. I am sorry for your brother being in the hospital. Prayers are going up for you and your family.
Thank you, Karen, for this beautiful reminder in the midst of your eventful life. Emmanuel, God with us – oh, boy, important to recall when life careens sideways. God bless you and Merry Christmas.
A wonderful reminder that God is working in all things for our good. So like God to use the least noticed things in this world to remind us of His presence in our lives. Thankful too, Karen, that you are sensitive to His quiet voice -letting you know He’s there in all of those things you are wading through. God bless you and prayers for you and your father for a blessed Christmas!
oooooooooooo THAT hits home for a LOT of us during the Holidaze!!! THANKS for that. Limpin’ on towards Bethlehem, then…
So sorry for you trials. The unexpected…so true and such a test of our faith. Thanks for sharing your heart, Karen, and living out your faith before us. I read this in Streams in the Desert yesterday; it encouraged me so much. Hope it encourages you as well.
“Human life is made of brightness and gloom, shadows and sunshine, and dark clouds followed by brilliant rays of light. Yet, through it all, God’s divine justice is accomplishing His plan, affecting and disciplining each individual soul.” And then so applicable to the holiday Season, the author goes on to say… “Let us enjoy His light and comfort when it is His pleasure to give it to us, but may we not attach ourselves to His gifts. May we instead attach ourselves to Him, and when He plunges us into the night, where pure faith is required, may we still press on through the agonizing darkness.”
Daniel J. Parker
You stood in the gap for others. The Hebrew term for this is “Isha Habinayim”(Isha is the feminine/Ish is the masculine). Jesus was “Ish Habinayim”. Literally this term stands for one who stands between two competing or rival camps to engage in singular combat against the rival/enemy camp’s single combatant. David ,the shepherd boy and future King of Israel, stood between the camp of the Israelites and the enemy camp of the Philistines to engage in singular combat with the giant, Philistine champion, Goliath. Jesus as “Ish Habinayim” stood and stands in the gap between the enemy camp of sin/evil and the camp of the Kingdom of His father God. Not with a sword made of steel or a smooth stone & a sling…..but with two nailed hands and two nailed feet holding the greatest weapon against the enemy….the Love of almighty God. This is the same love which you gave on your day lived for others. I used the principle of “Ish Habinayim” in a new historical fiction novel which I have just completed. Your unselfish day of love made me think of you as “Isha Habinayim”.(c)2015
Thank you for sharing your Christmas blessings and showing how God knits us all together with his love.
Janet Ann Collins
This was one of the most inspiring posts I’ve read all this season. Thanks for sharing it.
Karen, just now getting to this. It’s been a crazy week here, too.
Praying for you and all your family. May you have a blessed Christmas and much peace and support throughout the coming year.
Grace and peace,
I just got to your post today, Karen. Beautiful! What an inspiration to so many of us who may be experiencing the unexpected. You’ve provided new meaning and insight with special blessings during Advent, and now, in the moments following Christmas. Thank you!