How is everyone?
Looks like the unavoidable countdown to Christmas has begun. Although I do believe some of my Facebook friends have been counting down since somewhere around April (dramatic eyeroll).
So what I’m going to write about today I know I’ve mentioned before, but it’s so good I think it’s worth giving it another rattle. So hang in there.
For the past few years I’ve read a little advent devotional in the countdown to Christmas; it’s called Joy to the World, by the wonderful preacher Charles Spurgeon. As if I wasn’t already a super fan, I came across this wee gem on kindle a few years back and it just shone a whole new light on the birth of our King and Saviour. Although it was taken from sermons in the 1850’s, thankfully the language has been updated for the modern reader.
As much as I don’t want to bore you all with my book recommendations every blog, I do recommend this book.
For this blog I’m going to skip to day 6 INVISIBLE STRINGS; it still leaves me in the same awe as the first time I read it.
I don’t think there is any point in me paraphrasing a legend, so here is the the reading
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
(Luke 2:1-5 ESV)
[It had been prophesied] that our Lord [would spring] out of Judah. It was necessary, also, that he should be born in Bethlehem, according to the word of the Lord which he spoke by his servant Micah. But how could a public recognition of the lineage of an obscure carpenter and an unknown maiden be procured? What interest could the keepers of registers be supposed to take in two such humble persons? As for the second matter, Mary lived at Nazareth in Galilee, and there seemed every probability that the birth would take place there; indeed, the period of her delivery was so near that, unless absolutely compelled, she would not be likely to undertake a long and tedious journey to the southern province of Judea. How are these two matters to be arranged? A little tyrant, Herod, by some show of independent spirit, offends the greater tyrant, Augustus. Augustus informs him that he shall no longer treat him as a friend, but as a vassal. Although Herod makes the most abject submission, and his friends at the Roman court intercede for him, Augustus, to show his displeasure, orders a census to be taken of all the Jewish people, in readiness for taxation, which, however, was not carried out till some ten years after. Even the winds and waves are not more fickle than a tyrant’s will; but the Ruler of tempests knows how to rule the perverse spirits of princes. The Lord our God has a bit for the wildest war horse, and a hook for the most terrible leviathan. Autocratical Caesars are but puppets moved with invisible strings, mere drudges to the King of kings.
Did you love it??? God basically used the baddies to work his GOOD plan to bring our Saviour into the world. Not only did he use them, they actually played a vital role in it.
This so much makes me think of the verse in Romans 8 which I’ll quote often on the worst days, as I try to lift myself out of whatever hellish circumstantial sadness I’m experiencing.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28 NIV
So I guess what I wanted to say today, which will hopefully bring a little hope to a situation, is don’t underestimate how God is using the baddie in your story to bring his good plan together.
Perhaps you have a challenging work situation, a mean ex or a difficult family member.
I’m not saying tolerate bad behaviour, absolutely NOT, nor am I saying that you have to love your current situation. But what I would say is that in this story of Christ’s birth, Mary was obedient, she trusted God’s plan and she honoured God. And I believe in your current “difficult” situation, if you cling onto God, pray, honour him in the way you conduct yourself, stay obedient to his directions, I’m certain that before long you will see his hand in the situation.
I stand on personal conviction to this. I’ve had circumstances and situations I’ve begged God, please get me out of this… not fix this, just get me out of this. One in particular was a very long and hard road and, from the beginning of the difficult process, God told me he wanted me to do everything with integrity. Along the way it would have been easy to do some underhanded, shady stuff in retaliation to some particularly awful behaviour. My name was dragged through the mud in many ways. Only by God’s strength, still I clung onto God’s request to be a woman of integrity, and I’m glad I did. I saw God’s glory manifest powerfully in that situation.
Another less serious situation, I had pretty much thought I could see a handy way out of and God kept asking me to honour him and the situation to the end. I did, and at the final hour he flipped that situation on its head in the most surprising way.
So I encourage you, pray and listen to God’s direction and ACT on it, even if it feels like it’s not going to solve your problem. All you need to do is leave the problem with God to sort and just keep being obedient while you wait. You just dont know God is working all things for good.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Genesis 50:20 NIV