This time last year I had just given birth to my youngest baby.
Her pregnancy was unplanned and unexpected. At nearly 4o years old, with a quiver-full already, and a brand new grandbaby, we certainly thought that our child-bearing days were behind us.
But then God did the unthinkable. He went and messed up our best-laid plans, and gifted us with a surprise pregnancy.
If I’m being honest, I didn’t take the news very well. In fact, I panicked. I spent weeks in denial, as questions raced through my mind.
What will my husband say? What will our kids think? How will my aging body handle this pregnancy? What does this mean for my job? What about our retirement plans? WHAT OF MY DREAMS?
It makes me laugh to think that I somehow still believe I know what’s best for me. God must be amused at my trivial way of thinking, and I sometimes wonder if He doesn’t find comic relief at my expense.
Before I actually knew for certain that I was yet again with child, I wrestled continuously with God.
In fact, the very night before finally conceding to take a pregnancy test, my mind simply would not shut down. Thoughts whirled, questions formed, and pictures of what could be arose.
I struggled to find sleep as peace was illusive.
I awoke multiple times throughout the night with a prayer already whispered on my lips. “God, please don’t let me be pregnant. Please don’t let me be pregnant.”
After awaking to this same scene repeatedly throughout the night, the Holy Spirit quickened me in my sleep, and I was suddenly jolted awake!
“What if you are with child already? What then?” His question brought conviction.
The very idea that there may already be a little life growing inside me brought tears to my eyes. The thought of this child ever feeling unwanted or unloved made my heart ache.
I instantly repented of my selfish behavior, and asked the Lord to help me embrace this new turn of events, albeit unexpected.
I slept the rest of that night in peace.
God had taken great care to prepare my heart to embrace the unexpected. Therefor, the next morning when I saw the 2 blue lines appear before my very eyes, I was able to calmly respond, “yes Lord.”
I think God must enjoy surprises. Or perhaps He merely likes to rattle us from our earthly expectations.
Everything about Jesus’ coming was unexpected.
His conception was unexpected. A virgin? Conceiving a child born of the Holy Spirit?
His birth place was unexpected. A stinky stable surrounded by stinky animals was less than ideal.
His form was unexpected. The people of Israel were expecting a King, not a baby.
And that is not all.
Jesus’ entire life was opposite of the people’s expectations.
Israel expected a supreme ruler trained in battle; donning wisdom beyond His years.
What they got was a baby born to a virgin, in a lowly town, into shameful circumstances.
They expected a man to come bursting onto the scene with praise and applause, riches and glory.
What they got was a child with meager beginnings, tucked away in a stable, hidden from men.
They thought He came to dole out punishment, but He came to give mercy instead.
They thought He came to be served, but He came to serve instead.
They thought He came to fight, but He came to bring peace.
They thought He would be adorned in power and might, but He came clothed in humility and grace.
They thought He would rule with an iron fist, but He came to heal with anointed hands.
They thought He would lead with commanding authority, but He came to lead by example instead.
They thought He came to reign upon a throne, but he came to reign inside our hearts.
They thought He would be the defender of the Jews, but He came as the sacrificial lamb for all.
What the people expected was nothing of what was actually presented, and Israel nearly missed the coming of their promised king because of it.
It’s not that they weren’t expecting Him. On the contrary, they had been expecting their savior king for thousands of years, due to the prophecy spoken by Isaiah, (Isaiah 9:6).
Their problem was that He did not look like they expected Him to.
How often are we guilty of this same behavior?
Is it possible that we dismiss what God is doing right before our eyes, because we expect it to look differently?
I remember being a part of a gift exchange many years ago that I’ll never forget.
Under the tree sat several beautifully wrapped gifts, all adorning festive wrapping, ribbon and bows.
All but one, that is.
This one gift was wrapped in a crinkled up paper bag and sealed with duct tape.
Everyone laughed as, one by one, the guests tried to avoid getting stuck with the “ugly” gift.
Little did we know that the ugly gift held the most prized possession. Cold hard cash!
You can imagine everyone’s surprise as the gift was reluctantly opened by its recipient.
I can’t help but think of how often I do the same thing.
Ashamedly I admit that all too often I look at the outward appearance of a person, and immediately begin to form my own ideas.
Or by looking at the outer shell of a home, I instantly speculate what kind of family lives there.
Or perhaps I have a tendency to view life’s hard circumstances as being God’s punishment instead of a thoughtful gift placed there by a merciful savior; a blessing in disguise.
Sometimes life throws us curve balls when we least expect it, and circumstances can be downright hard.
We don’t always understand what God is up to, but is it possible that Jesus could be up to something glorious right there- smack dab- in the middle of our hard?
In the trenches; amidst the grit and grime?
In the tear-soaked pillow in the dead of the night?
In our broken hallelujah’s?
Could it be that Jesus has wrapped something infinitely beautiful beneath the perceived ruins?
Friends, there is a big difference between merely accepting what is, and embracing what is.
Jesus often comes to us in ways that we least expect, to tend to our greatest areas of need, despite our ignorance.
My pregnancy, though unexpected, brought my husband and I the gift of new life in more ways than one. If we hadn’t been willing to embrace our unexpected circumstances, we could have potentially missed out on the precious gift that God was desiring to give us- out of His love.
Be it far from us to miss out on what Jesus is doing in our midst because we’re too stubborn to acknowledge that it may look entirely different then we expected.
Let us instead prepare our hearts to embrace the unexpected King- in whatever form He comes- this advent.