Christmas in July


And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38 (NASB)


We tend to think we can only enjoy the Christmas story in December, but what if we live life on the edge and read it in July? Trust me, I’m not trying to rush into Christmas. I love summertime! The truth is there’s a great deal we can learn from a godly, obedient teenage girl that has the potential to change our lives in every season—including a hot July day.

I’m sure you know Mary was chosen to carry the Messiah. As wonderful as it must have felt to be chosen to carry the Son of God, this blessing brought as much anxiety as joy. Mary was simply a typical teenage girl dreaming of her wedding when she was informed she would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Instead of discussing wedding plans with her fiancée, she told Joseph she was pregnant, but still a virgin. I don’t care how godly you are, facing life as a single mom and the death of her dreams was certainly overwhelming. When I think about Mary as a godly teenage mom, I find myself longing to be her friend. I have grandchildren around her age, and when they are asked to unconditionally obey God, I can almost feel the loneliness and fear of being misunderstood they’ve experienced. It’s one thing to be misunderstood deal with losing your friends, but what about losing the man you love? Mary was willing to lose Joseph. I’m sure she wrestled with whether Joseph would love her enough to pay the price to face opposition or would his jealousy open the door to feel for him to feel betrayed? When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he said: “Do not be afraid.” But how was that possible? In Jewish culture, Mary faced physical death and losing Joseph. Within moments, Mary’s life changed. Instead of planning and packing for the wedding and honeymoon, Mary packed everything she owned and left the home she loved to give Jesus a new home.

The blessing of being chosen to carry the Messiah came with difficulties and heartache. As a teen and young adult, it never occurred to me pain, heartache, and difficulties could be God’s blessings. I imagine if Mary were to teach a Bible study today, her story would be about how to trust God even when you don’t understand. We can’t know the outcome of our decision to trust God until we have said yes to His request. Have you ever asked, What if Mary had said no to Gabriel? When Gabriel told Mary she had been chosen to carry the Messiah, she had no idea what hung in the balance of her obedience. Nor do we!

What do you do when life doesn’t work out the way you thought it would? How do you respond to difficult circumstances, especially when the difficulties are not of your own doing? If you believe the lie that Jesus would never allow difficulty in your life if He really loved you, you become bitter when life becomes hard. I can honestly say this is what I believed for years. Every time life didn’t turn out the way I thought it should, I believed I was being punished for my past sins and over time, I became bitter. I was no Mary! What did Mary know I didn’t know? How did a young teenager have the courage to say, “May it be done to me according to your word?” It took me years to be able to pray, Not my will, but Your will. Along with the many years, it took heartache and pain until I could be honest with God and say, I want your will.

I have learned over the years how little control I have. When we finally understand God uses all things for His glory and our good, we will respond in surrender and say, I’m Yours. Do what You know is best”. In all honesty, I wanted God’s best. I just didn’t know what it was.

God interrupted Mary’s plans with a bigger plan, and her decision to obey God has brought hope to everyone who has ever faced a difficult situation. God is as loving and faithful in July as He is at Christmas. Our choices today will make as much of an impact as Mary’s decision. A day may come when God asks us to trust Him even when we don’t understand what He is doing. This is called living a life of faith. There are things we cannot understand without trusting God. I’ll never forget the time I decided I would rather trust God with my life and let Him take full responsibility for the outcome than to look back and wonder what God would have done had I obeyed Him. Obedience may cost us something, but I’ve learned the cost of disobedience no one wants to pay.

REFLECT

  • Enjoy reading the Christmas story in July. It’s more fun when you are not overwhelmed with cooking, shopping, and decorating for Christmas. You may find hidden truths to help prepare you to not be so overwhelmed this Christmas.

RESPOND

  • Are you afraid to trust God with every area of your life? Do you know why?

96

Normal 0

false false false

EN-US JA X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

  • Ask God what is keeping you from trusting Him? I know from experience He will answer this prayer. Just be willing to listen.
The SipMindy Fletcher