I’ve been going through some boxes of old high school stuff lately. Turns out that people who live in tiny condos can’t keep nostalgic stuff just because.
I’m amazed at all the things I was certain about that didn’t come to pass.
I was going to be a veterinarian, an animation artist, a journalist, an English professor. I was going to go into Bible translation work, into college chaplaincy, into hospice ministry.
Each time, I was certain.
Each time, I was wrong.
Don’t get me started on the guys I dated who I was totally going to marry. What a disaster.
One of the mercies of God is that he doesn’t always let us have what we think we want, because often, with time and maturity, our wants change. Often, with grace and discipleship, our wants change to be more in line with God’s wants.
In Isaiah, God puts it this way:
Isaiah 55:8 (NIV)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
When it comes to the Christmas story, I would have done things much differently. Poor pregnant Mary wouldn’t have had to ride 70 miles on a donkey, for one thing. Jesus wouldn’t have been born in a stable but somewhere clean and safe and warm and dry.
I’m sure I would have overlooked the shepherds. I would have routed the Magi around Herod to avoid giving a murderous tyrant knowledge of the newborn king.
I would have been so very, very wrong.
How beautifully magnificent that God sent his own son to earth for us in such a humble way.
The story of Jesus teaches us so very much about God’s thoughts. God notices the poor, letting shepherds be the first to worship his newborn son. God loves the foreigner, guiding the Magi to Jesus by a star. God’s power is not made perfect in the strength of Herod’s might but in the weakness of an infant’s cry.
God’s ways are higher than ours in every way. They are so much higher that we can never climb to them, so he comes down to us.
So the choice before us is this: will we submit to his will and his ways, his truth and his light, or will we continue trying to forge our own paths apart from him? Will we accept his high, sometimes inscrutable ways, or continue to assert our own?
It was C.S. Lewis who wrote, “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.'”
Which is it for you this Advent?