The Real Christmas Question

“I need you to sit down because there’s something I need to tell you,” she said to the cell phone. “Your father is going for emergency surgery right now.”*

A few weeks ago I heard this conversation  as I walked through our waiting room, and immediately my mind formed the scene: perhaps, the person on the other end of the line was working in an office when they heard these words. Perhaps they were at home cooking dinner, or browsing the Internet, bored. 

Whatever the situation, one thing was clear to me: whatever they had been doing no longer mattered. 

Isn’t the line between normal and “life will never be the same” so razor-sharp? One moment you can be standing at the sink, peeling the shell off of a hard-boiled egg for a salad. The next moment the known universe can shatter like that egg shell, splintering down fault lines that never before existed. 

What do you think Mary was doing when the angel Gabriel arrived? Cooking dinner? Browsing the local scroll? 

Mary of Galilee was a human, a hormonal female, not a saint. In modern terms, Gabriel’s announcement to her was something like the conversation I overheard: “Mary, I need you to sit down, because there’s something I need to tell you… You’re going to give birth to the son of God.”

And I think the question she asked is the question we are all permitted to ask God today: “How?” 

And the answer Gabriel gave her is the answer we still get today: “By the power of God.”

And the only smart reply is the one she gave: “Okay.”

And the result of that answer must still be the same today: when we have no resources, when all we have are God’s promises, the things “formed within us”, and the things that proceed out of us, are infused by the power of God, not by our own power.

This Christmas season, I am stunned again by Mary’s impossible situation, thrown on her in a split second, and I am relieved that God was okay with her trembling question, “How will this be?”

I am relieved that God is the God of life-changing moments in which we find no reserves. I’m relieved that He specializes in just such situations, to the point that he chose an impossible situation for the birth of his own Son. I’m relieved that when things change so quickly that we can’t catch our breath, much less think, God is completely un-alarmed. 

Our unqualified trust in him is the solution to “How will this be?”, because He is the answer to the question. 

*When I write about the hospital, I alter the details for the sake of privacy.  

2 thoughts on “The Real Christmas Question”

  1. Very well written. I like it a lot! Isn’t It humbling that our awesome God actually wants to work through frail human beings? Thank you for the encouragement! God bless you!

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