Word of the Week

God, What Were You Thinking?

Today, I have one question: God, really what were you thinking hanging all of the hopes of the world on one birth and one night?

If you and I have any logical sense, hanging all ours hopes in life on everything aligning correctly as God did at Christmas Eve was a pretty stupid thing to do. We’ve all come to know that life is too fragile and too uncertain for only one plan of ours working out perfectly, haven't we?

Especially for the overachievers, we are the people of a back-up plan.

When we or our children are applying to college or graduate school, we want to know: “what is your fail proof school?”

When we are applying for our “dream” job, it is often asked of us, “what is your back-up offer?”

And, during late night sessions with best friends, we often ask: “If I am not with someone by this age or if my spouse dies early, can we be each other’s back-up plan?”

For we are a people who like to know that the odds of our decisions are working in our favor—and that if plan A doesn’t work, there is an equally good plan B around the corner.

But in the Christmas story as Luke 2 tells it, all of God’s hopes for the blessing of all the world were on one womb . . . one night . . . one mother . . . one willing partner . . . one band of shepherds . . . ONE chance to get it right or it would be a fail. For, there was not a back-up plan.

There was only ONE plan.

And God trusted human beings to carry it out!

And, in this one plan, God trusted Mary and Mary’s body . . . as there was no room for error.

God trusted Joseph to be there for Mary . . . as we are told no midwife attended to the birth.

God trusted the shepherds to respond  . . . as there were no other visitors right away.

God trusted the angels to sing . . . . as they were the creators of the first carols.

God trusted the star not to refuse to shine . . . as without the star, the shepherds did not know where to go.

The only ONE plan was built upon the audacity of God’s trust in everything happening as it should.

I was thinking this week if there was anything as audacious as this in our modern senses so to compare this to and I thought of a family facing foreclosure on their house and buying the most expensive lottery ticket.  And, as they bought it, saying to themselves: “This ticket is going to save our lives.”

Never mind you, that it is commonly known from statistics that one’s chances of winning the lottery on a single ticket are highly unlikely with all of the probability variables. Even if you play a single state lottery (you best case scenario), the chances of one’s winning with a single ticket are 18 million to one.  But, even still, this family buys the ticket, holds on to it and believes it is their one plan out of destitution.

And, so, it was the posture of God that night. Though no studies have been written to qualify the odds of the whole Jesus being born in a manger thing working out, we know the fates of this world were all stacked against this plan working out too.

Really, who could believe that a teenaged mother and a lowly group of animal watchers in a borrowed stable could be a part of something magnificent? What a motley crew!

But, yet we know on that Holy Night, the greatest lottery of all times came to be won as Jesus came forth and became called, Emmanuel, God with Us—welcomed by just these folks.

Though such a story can be hard to believe sometimes, especially for the most skeptical and analytic among us.

But our faith asks us to believe in the most bizarre of circumstances that God hit the jackpot that night and a child, who was called Christ.

And here is the real question: do we really want a story that makes perfect sense that is fully understandable? Do we really want a God in our lives who is just like us?

I don’t know about you, but as this year comes to a close and I look at all that has gone wrong and all that is not right in this world (oh the lists we could make!), I know one thing: that I don’t want my God to be just like me.

I don’t want my God to give me exactly what I deserve.

I don’t want my God to be one in whom I understand, explain away and make into a pretty scene sitting on my coffee table.

No, because life is just too messy. Life is just too painful. Life is just too busy. Life is just too unfair to hang my hopes tonight on a story I am in control of!

For, I need a God who is faithful, even beyond my most faithful friend to bring about something beautiful in my life.

I need a God who can work through the most impossible of circumstance to bring about something new, something that I cannot create on my own.

For, I need a God who can’t be explained through apologetics or formulas or charts.

I need a God who can align the paths and people and places of this world so that in the midst of darkness a great light is seen again.

For, I need a God who is beyond all comprehension as my ability to fathom mystery is to rational for the conception of something as wonderful as Savior born unto me again this evening.

For, I need a God to do the impossible . . . . to show up, to be present once again and to show me that life is not as it seems just as it is now.

If you are with me with any of this, then I tell you the good news this evening: Christmas, then, is just for you.

For just as we have been on this Advent journey all month, waiting for something, hoping for something, rejoicing with what was not yet, and imagining the possibility of loving fully once again: on Christmas Day, such blessing IS here.

The incarnation—this impossible thing— is a sign to us that no matter what happens in your life and mine or in this crazy world of ours, the impossible is always possible. And, we are not alone!

God came to earth and took a body. A body in all its messiness! God became one of us. If this is not humility and love, I don’t know what is!

What a gift! What a night! What a baby we have to celebrate!