Last week I had the privilege of speaking at a women’s event in the Chicago area. As I prepared, I felt prompted to speak on kind of a strange topic for Christmas: Fear.
AKA worry, anxiety, angst, hot messiness…
The shepherds, Mary, Joseph, Zechariah… To each of them an angel says, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. Don’t. be. afraid.”
It’s the most often repeated command in the Bible so I’m thinking there must be a lot of people dealing with it, right?
Fear is a weird emotion to associate with Christmas, but as I reflect on the shepherds, Mary, Zechariah and Joseph, it isn’t “CHRISTMAS” they are experiencing; it’s just LIFE – their ordinary, everyday walking around life.
And they lose any illusion of control, any illusion of “life as we know it” the moment an angel shows up, right?!!
LIFE isn’t going according to their plans.
They are living a life interrupted.
They are forced to adapt to a Plan B life.
The Plan B life may not be as safe, or predictable, or comfortable, or boring as they’d like, because there are new circumstances. But more than that, there’s a new character in their story. The main character has arrived; the messiah cleverly disguised as a baby in the muck and mess of a manger.
How many of us are living our Plan A life? Really.
- You thought you’d have your dream job by now and you don’t.
- You thought you’d be pregnant and you’re not.
- You thought you’d he’d live and but he died.
- You thought you’d be married by now and you’re not.
Plan B. Life is not going as we thought. Or hoped. Or dreamed.
But the main character, a baby has entered our Plan B life to be with us; to redeem and restore and make the story come out right in the end.
Aaaannnd…spoiler alert: Love wins.
But how do we get from the fear or anxiety that comes with Plan B to the joy promised to all of us?
- What would happen if we lived as if we were confident that God is with us and is much bigger than our Plan B?
- What if we listened more intently to our Father than our fears?
- What if we filled our mind with the words of our Author like Mary did? (Luke 1:46-55)
- What if we recognized an invitation rather than an ending? An invitation to be formed by Love in ways beyond our small Plan A imaginations.
Joy can replace fear when we realize our very small story is part of a very large story and we can trust the Author; the author who is also the main character, with us in our Plan B life.
Into Zechariah and Elizabeth’s barren helplessness comes Jesus, Mighty God.
Onto the starry, windswept hillside God comes as Everlasting Father for some lonely teenage shepherd boys.
For Joseph, who has to endure criticism and take on a parenting responsibility he didn’t ask for, God is the Wonderful Counselor.
For Mary, living in a world turned upside down, God is her Prince of Peace.
Into the dark, smelly stable, into the messy trough, serenaded by the snuffles, snorts, and baying of farm animals, into our Plan B lives comes light and life.
Circumstances may not change. We may be baffled and clueless and grasping. Go ahead and grasp, but grasp well. Hold tightly this Christmas to the hand of the One who enters our Plan B and redeems it.
Which name for Jesus do you most need to be reminded of in your Plan B Christmas?
Click here for verses that may help.
**The picture in this post is of a print I got from Naptime Diaries last year.