I keep catching myself out on this particular train of thought:
…I could get a bit more sleep
…it wasn’t so hot
…the kids would do as they’re asked
…we had a bigger fridge
…the house would stay tidy for more than a few minutes!
It’s so easy for me to think of ways to finish this sentence starting with these two words “If ONLY”, and it seems that we’re constantly surrounded by it. “If only you bought this you would be so much happier!” As Christmas approaches it would seem appropriate that I would get a nudge to change my thought pattern, at least every now and then!!
Can you imagine Mary and Joseph thinking along these lines…
…we didn’t have to go to Bethlehem
…we had some decent transport
…I was carrying a girl
…we didn’t have to share any space with these smelly, noisy animals
…there was a midwife or doctor to help with the birth
I don’t think I would have coped well AT ALL in this situation. How about you?
Of course if we were to put things on hold until the ideal conditions arose nothing would get done would it? We often find ourselves in situations where we have to weigh up decisions that affect both short term gains, and long term advantages.
With that comes the added pressures of expectations. From your family, your friends, colleagues, and YOURSELF!
Roughly 700 years before Jesus was born Isaiah said this, “…the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Can you imagine what people thought when they first heard this?
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.” When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. (Matt 1)
It is so easy for me to dwell on my circumstances, and emotions at the very point of time that I find myself in, but will my immediate reaction benefit me, my family, those I love in the long term?
It can be so easy to jump ahead, of where we are in our journey, without taking hold of what God has blessed us with in the moment. Just like Joseph, who was preparing to divorce Mary quietly before being visited by the angel.
It’s also possible to jump from moment to moment, without an end goal in sight. Can you imagine 700 years of waiting for The Messiah to come? Would you get discouraged?
We’re constantly having to weigh up the ideas of benefits and disadvantages in both the short term and long term time frames. Whether it’s dealing with a toddler who will not let up about buying something while on a trip to the shops, or with a friend or family member who only ever contacts you when they need something.
Fortunately for us all God is constantly there when we have big or small issues to face. Even when things are going swimmingly. He helps us to see that instead of thinking that the glass is half empty, it’s actually half full! He also acknowledges that it’s ok to see it as half empty, but it’s much more beneficial for us to see it as half full.
He doesn’t want us just to be content, but to be able to experience his peace and joy, despite our immediate circumstances.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2)
With hindsight we are fortunate to know that God answers prayers clearly, as the passage in Luke says. He also changes our “If Only” statements with “When”. He wants us to take hold of his love and peace with open hearts, and consider what we would love on the canvas of our lives.
What we need to think and pray about is God’s perspective in the whole scheme of our lives, and think about “When”. God asks us to pray, listen, and wait for God’s response…
“When you are ready my child. When you’re ready.”