The Scarcity Lie

Recently a close friend of mine met up with me for a walk over our lunch break. When she asked me how I was doing, I replied, “Well, I don’t accept a poverty mentality as true, but I live daily refuting the lie that there isn’t enough. I struggle constantly to denounce the whispers that I don’t have enough time, enough help, enough resources, enough….you fill in the blank.”

I could spend this entire page writing out the places we are short, the areas where we don’t have enough. And yet, my confidence in a God of abundance, screams against that evidence. Have you ever found yourself here? I think it’s a common lie—one the enemy has been using for time immemorial to trap us in an endless cycle of want. Scarcity. It plagues us, even in our opulence. And the plague leaves us feeling desperate to hold on to what we have, to grab for what we don’t.

When we went to Venezuela in 2004, Jaden was almost three. We enrolled him in Venezuelan preschool where he heard Spanish all morning long. It was my hope that he would grow up learning both Spanish and English concurrently and so be bilingual. The first fruits of this effort, emerged one afternoon about a month after school started. The boys were running through the house, Jaden chasing his older brother, and shouting in Spanish, “No Marshall, mio!” (No Marshall, mine!) The first word I heard him use in his new language was an indicator of the scarcity mentality at work!

And yet the Psalmist cries out in praise to God, “You satisfy the longing heart. You fill the hungry soul with goodness.” And in another place, “You open your hands and satisfy the desires of every living creature.” Can I actually live my life driven by not having enough, when the God of the universe is pictured as opening his hands to satisfy my longing heart?

In the New Testament Paul tells the believers in Philippi, “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus.” He is merely echoing exactly what Jesus told his followers, “Look at the birds of the air…your father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Jesus told his followers to step out of the poverty mentality, to say no to the fear of not enough and to seek His kingdom first of all.

Right about now, you are probably afraid I’m going to start touting some “health and wealth” line, or a prosperity gospel that as Paul would say is “no gospel at all.” You might even be about to argue that the Scriptures I’ve quoted are speaking of spiritual blessings. Let me assure you that I am not interested in replacing one lie—the scarcity mentality, with another equally asinine one—health and wealth. Just because one is a lie, doesn’t mean the other is truth! Neither one fits what God tells us in His Word. The verses I have shared are about life, all of life, the spiritual aspects and the physical. God is our Jehovah Jirah—our provider, both of everything we need for an eternity with him, and all things temporal in the mean time. So if God knows exactly what we need, and he is an extravagant, loving and promise-keeping God, then why would I live trapped by a poverty mentality?

The only solution? Believe God for what he promises. Live with a thankful heart. Seek His Kingdom and his righteousness. And live from a mentality of abundance.


God Loves Me So Much

Joel was scheduled to have neck surgery yesterday. The plan was to implant an electrical impulse unit into his neck that would basically tell the nerves to quit sending pain signals. It is a surgery his team of doctors, and pain management professionals have recommended as the last course of action they can offer that might help his chronic pain.  He had a trial procedure done over a year ago where they put a temporary wire in right at the location of the pain. It helped! And thus began the process toward his having the surgery. And what a process it has been–from MRIs to CAT scans, to psych evaluations, and blood work. Then last August a failed attempt to place the unit was followed by more tests, more visits to the neurosurgeon and more plans for a slightly different surgery. And Monday was to be the day for that surgery–except insurance denied the request. And at four on Friday afternoon we received a call from the surgeons office cancelling Monday’s scheduled operation!

Now what!

More pain?

More waiting and trying to convince insurance Joel needs this surgery?

More doctor appointments?

But not more help…not more relief.

I admit I was angry, frustrated, and deeply saddened by this turn of events.  And one of my first thoughts was, “Well no one making this decision has any idea what it’s like to live with chronic pain! Or be the person caring for someone in chronic pain!” My heart aches to watch Joel be so limited in what he is able to do. No throwing the football in the yard with the kids. No teaching Jaden how to change the oil in the car, or switch out a flat tire. No playing games around the table on family game night. No concerts or walks in the park or a million other little life adventures without the constant shriek of pain in his neck.

In the midst of my angst and frustration, I kept hearing the disciplined side of my brain telling me that God is always in control and this hadn’t taken him by surprise. I could hear Romans 8:28–“He works all things together for good to them that love him…” rolling around in the recesses of my mind. Yes, well we do love him, so where’s the good in this? I wanted to know.

Strangely what came to me was how often I tell people that God loves me so much. That made me stop and think, Do I believe he loves me so much right now? In the middle of this? Did God love Job in the middle of his sufferings? Of course he did! I am not suffering anything compared to Job, but I can see from his life and testimony that God loved him so much all along–before, during, and after his major trials. And that gives me confidence to say, I do believe God loves me so much right now. He loves Joel so much right now. And he won’t let the pain last one second longer than absolutely necessary for our good. “Bless the Lord O my soul…who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:1 and 3).


He Only Ever Read the Bible

Often during my early morning prayer time, I catch myself about to pray for my grandparents, who are both now in the very presence of Jesus. I stop and think, Oh, I don’t have to pray for them anymore. They are with their Savior. And so I turn my prayer into an offering of thanks for their precious lives and the powerful influence they still have my own life.

Yesterday, as I went through this process, the memory of my gramps that popped into my mind, was his weathered frame, seated in his favorite chair, bent over His Bible with his pointer finger slowly sliding under the words he was reading, a pen and pad of paper on the stand next to him. Suddenly another thought dawned on me, I never saw him read anything else. He only ever read his Bible. I searched my memory files for an image of him reading a book, a magazine or newspaper, even a seed catalogue—since he was a farmer. And I could find no such memory. I don’t know if he read and maybe I just didn’t see it. But I do know he was ill-educated. I don’t think he went to school past the 6th grade!

The child of Romanian immigrants, my gramps grew up with four other brothers and a sister. They practically raised themselves after his mother suffered a nervous breakdown and was institutionalized until her death. School was, in their minds, optional, until the truant officer came after them. So Gramps never did get a solid education or even develop an interest in being educated.

What Gramps was, he was–a simple, hard-working, strong-as-an-ox, stubborn farmer, whom God transformed into a Christ-follower. The one thing I saw Gramps pursue my whole life was his Savior—to know and love God. He and Grams went to Venezuela as missionaries when I was two—Gramps was already in his mid-50s. But that didn’t stop him. (Remember the stubborn part). He was gardener on a mission—to provide healthful garden produce at a remote missionary school for children of tribal missionaries. And that is exactly what God enabled him to do for almost 20 years. He was out working (remember that hard-working, strong-as-an-ox part) into his early 70s, in a tropical climate where 90 degrees was a starting point for the day’s heat. But, even though I am impressed by his tenacity in ministry, what inspires me is the simplicity of his ultimate pursuit. He only ever read his Bible. He didn’t have to become a scholar or even a good reader—he probably used his pointer finger as a guide because he still needed that help! Instead he became a man in love with his Savior. And that was enough.

Gramps’ favorite verse was Nahum 1:7—The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble and he knoweth them that trust in him. God certainly knows Gramps, because Gramps lived by a simple trust in his Savior.

He only ever read his Bible…


The Antidote for Sin

In Ephesians 5:3-4, Paul writes a pretty strongly worded warning against immorality on almost every level. Then he makes this surprising statement:  “Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.” Now I’m not surprised to see an exhortation to thankfulness. It’s that little word, instead. What does this command have to do with the prior directives to avoid immorality, course jesting, crude conversation and coveting?

I think I experienced part of the answer on a recent trip to England, where I had the delight of visiting my younger sister Dar Gail and her dear family. It was a triply blessed trip because I went to work with some of Dar Gail’s colleagues at the missionary training center where she and her husband serve, plus I stayed a couple extra days  to spend time with family and play the tourist, and finally my sister Tammy was able to go with me. What a treat to minister and play together with family!

On Sunday we decided to go to Lincoln to tour the cathedral and shop the little town. The drive takes about an hour on some pretty narrow, winding roads, but my brother-in-law Geoff is an expert chauffeur. We packed snacks, toys, changes of clothes for the two little ones–ages 3 and 1–and buckled them into car seats.

About 45 minutes into the ride, Gracie, the three-year-old began to act grouchy and whiny. We figured it was a long drive and she was probably getting bored, but she didn’t respond to any of our efforts to cheer her up. Finally, Dar Gail said, ‘I think we need to play the thankful game! Gracie, let’s think about what we are thankful for.” Gracie just furrowed her brow at Dar Gail, but we proceeded to “model” thankfulness for Gracie.

“I”m thankful we get to go on an outing all together today.” Tammy said.

“I’m thankful your aunties could come and visit us.” Dar Gail added. Then she asked, “What are you thankful for, Gracie.” Gracie responded with a frown.

“I’m thankful that we get to go see the cathedral.” I said, glancing over at Gracie. Her expression was pained. “Gracie, are you okay?” I asked, an instant before it happened. Without answering me she began to throw-up, profusely, generously, everywhere!

Of course we all scrambled into action, Geoffrey looking for a place to pull off on the narrow road we were traveling, me trying tofind some kind of bag or receptacle to catch the vomit, Tammy  moving anything possible out of the way of the torrent.

A good thirty minutes later, we had managed to clean Gracie and everything else up as well as possible on the side of the road. And we were all still in high spirits. Dar Gail aptly commented, “I guess God knew we needed to be in a mindset of thankfulness to deal with this detour graciously!” We all had a laugh at that. But it was indeed true. Our thinking had been turned toward thankfulness, our hearts full of gratitude toward God, and even though a car-sick child wasn’t on our agenda, we were able to deal with the disaster with a positive attitude, instead of despair or defeat.

I think that is at least partly what Paul was getting at in this passage in Ephesians. He was saying, “Have a practice of being thankful. Because that will totally change our outlook; it is the antidote for falling pray to lust, coveting and inappropriate conduct.” Doug Wilson says, “Lust is fundamentally a complaint that God has not given you what want or think you need.” Now try complaining to God about what you don’t have at the same time that you are thanking him for what He has given you! It just doesn’t work! Not when it comes to lustful desires or other covetous expectations.

INSTEAD if we can only “Let there be thankfulness to God,” we discover that the complaints die out, the traps of lust and coveting no longer have the same power over us.

 


Scraps of Scripture

Earliest manuscript scrap dating cr. 250 AD

This tiny portion of the gospel of John, featured at the John Rylands in Manchester, England is thought to be the oldest manuscript scrap of the Bible in existence today! And I got to see it…in a show case, layered between two pieces of protective glass, with a spotlight carefully positioned under it for maximum viewing, and minimum long-term damage.

I leaned close to the display staring  at this tiny bit of papyrus. A fragile piece of history. A tenuous remnant of the whole. A crumbling, fractured, torn and tearing scrap of the Word of God. And I felt in that moment the awe of God’s eternal purpose.

This scrap stands in stark contrast to the reality of Scripture. This tiny physical portion, represents a reality far beyond it’s delicate condition. God’s Word is powerful. It is eternal. It is truth! It has a purpose, a destiny. It will not crumble with time. It will not lose its way, or fail in its purpose. We know this because God himself tells us so. “For the Word of the Lord stands forever!” (Isa. 40:8 and 1 Peter 1:25)

As we wandered through the rest of the library, including a display on the reformation, highlighting Martin Luther, and William Tyndale–in particular their efforts to get Scripture into the language of the people–I couldn’t help but feel like I was standing on the shoulders of these giants of antiquity. Their stubborn efforts to see the common man hold God’s Word in his own hands, tore open the door, shedding the light of the gospel in a powerful way throughout Europe. But that’s not all. Their faithfulness, their hard work, has provided for us a legacy of Scripture in our own language that has only grown over the past several centuries. And their testimony calls to us, reminding us that the job is not yet finished. Hundreds of languages still sit in darkness, not knowing the power and truth of God’s Word.

From a fragile scrap of Scripture, through years of darkness, to the reformation, and beyond, God’s Word endures. And his purpose is clear…we are his vessels for spreading that word through out the world. So I have to ask myself, what will the John Rylands library feature about the availability of Scripture in our generation? If, one day, there is a display on the struggles of Christians in the 21st century, what will it say. Where will that scrap of Scripture be? Who will have it in their heart language? Who will still be waiting?

 


Football and the Way of Mercy

I have to start this post with a confession: I LOVE FOOTBALL. I am an avid fan. Not only do I love my own team—Go Green Bay!!!!—I also love the game itself. I love to watch the refs and critique their motions and descriptions of penalties. I love to watch the QB’s dance, the runners plow, the offensive linemen charge, and the receivers sail into the air to make impossible catches. So there it is: I love football. You can guess what I was doing on Sunday evening. And I know I”m not alone; The Super Bowl is, after all the most watched sporting event in America!

This leads me to my next confession, which I’m not so proud to admit…I abhor the Patriots! I am an avid critic. It’s not that they don’t play amazing football. I just have a hard time forgiving such hubris and cheating! And I know I’m not alone here either.  How else can you explain a map of America by twitter that shows all but four states rooting for Philadelphia?

But why blog about it today? Well my affinity for football and aversion for one aforementioned team, led to a life lesson this week, that I am compelled to share.

It was late as I tucked Roman into bed Sunday evening after the game. I quickly prayed with him, and in my excitement over the game, impulsively exclaimed, “And thank you LORD! that the Patriots did not win again, amen.”

As I stood to leave Roman stopped me with this comment, “Mom, it just doesn’t seem right to rejoice over someone losing. It feels unkind.” Ouch!

“It’s all in fun.” I brushed it off. “Besides, I’m also really glad for the Eagles. They’ve never won before, and their quarterback is an outspoken Christian.” I added.

But his comment came back to me yesterday after I dropped him off at school. I couldn’t help imagining him on the play ground laughing at a kid he doesn’t like and saying, “Haha! You lost!” Then turning his eyes heavenward with an exclamation, “Thank you Lord, that he lost!” It felt unkind.  Was I teaching him one form of behavior and adhering to another? Leave it to our children to expose the hypocrisy within!

When Roman got home form school I said to him, “I need to talk to you about something important.”

“Uh-oh,” he moaned.

“You aren’t in trouble.” I quickly assured him. “It’s about me–about our conversation when I tucked you in last night.”

“Ahhhh…that.” He said, as if he knew already what I was about to say.

“I”m sorry I said what I did. You are right. It is unkind to cheer when someone loses. Even if they are someone we don’t know.” He nodded. “Instead, we should pray for them. I know the quarterback from the Eagles is a Christian and he has testified to trusting God even with his football game. But I don’t know if any of the Patriots are Christians. It would be better to pray for them than cheer over their loss.”

Then he asked. “Mom how many times and when did they cheat?”

“I know of three times. The last time was two years ago, I think.” I told him.

“Oh,” he answered. “Then maybe they’ve changed!”

I laughed—not because of how unlikely I thought that was–ooh, my self-righteous heart–but because once again God was speaking through Roman to show me the way of mercy.

You’re right, Roman. Maybe they have! We should always give people a chance to change. Look we want people to give us room to grow and change. So we should be willing to give that chance to others.” He nodded as he continued building the domino track he was working on.

As I finished making dinner, I couldn’t help but think how thankful I am for another chance. And for the reminder of God’s grace and mercy through a simple thing like football and an honest child! Out of the mouth of babes he has ordained praise!


A God who Pursues

Elijah was a prophet of God during a time in Israel when that livelihood was a death sentence. Wicked King Ahab ruled with his wife Jezebel who served the false god Baal. But Elijah was bold, issuing a challenge the followers of Baal. Whose God would send fire from heaven to consume the offering made on Mt. Caramel? To Jezebel’s horror, the prophets of Baal suffered a grave defeat before the one true God on Mt. Carmel. Elijah’s first  call to God, resulted in fire from heaven that burned up his sacrifice while 200 prophets could not get Baal’s attention no matter how fervently they called to him.

God proved himself to be the one true God in Israel and he used his prophet Elijah to do it. Boldly Elijah demanded the death of every false prophet of Baal. Then he prayed for rain which had not fallen in Israel for three years, and when God sent a storm, he gave Elijah supernatural strength to outrun it, arriving in Jezreel before King Ahab who had a chariot to ride!

Elijah was experiencing a high moment in his career as a prophet of God. Jezebel’s response was to issue a death warrant!

Elijah panicked, and ran. He escaped to the wilderness, found a spot under a broom tree and gave up. Praying to God for death, he collapsed in sleep. Through a series of miraculous interventions, God reached out to Elijah in his broken and desperate state, providing for his physical need of food and shelter, and ultimately his spiritual needs, with a personal encounter in the form of a “still, small voice.”

Ultimately Elijah was restored to strength and faith by God Himself. God’s Word came to him in a whisper on the mountain breathing life into his shaking limbs, and trembling heart. (See 1 Kings 19.)

I tend to wonder how Elijah could have fled before wicked Jezebel’s threats after God had proved Himself so powerful. How could he have been afraid of a mere woman, even if she was queen, after what he had seen God do at his request on Mount Caramel?

Then I realize it’s the same thing I do.  Last week a friend of mine sent me a text to ask how I was doing. It had been a frustrating  few days with calls to our insurance handler, bills coming in from the hospital, and more paperwork requirements. I had to admit I felt like a spiritual bipolar. I found myself wanting to run and hide in a cave.

I have seen God do miraculous things on my behalf. I have experienced his power and provision in my life. I have walked a path carved out by his hand and been in awe of his glory. And yet, like Elijah I can be laid flat in a cave in the wilderness by material threats. (I’m not even being chased by a witch Queen with a death wish. In my case it’s hospital bills and a loved one with chronic pain.)

I guess I can’t be too hard on Elijah. Instead I am compelled to learn from his story. The biggest thing I learn is that God came after him. God pursued this worn out, frustrated, and scared prophet. He cared for him, providing for his needs–food, water and shelter. Then he engaged him. You aren’t done Elijah! I have more for you to do in my name.  Elijah was ready to throw in the towel. But God wouldn’t let him.

When I’m tired and frustrated and feel overrun by forces beyond my control, I can easily feel like running away. But God won’t let me either. He cares too much. So He chases after me. He provides. He equips. And He engages.


A Love for His Word

Boarding a plane in Chicago, is pretty routine for me by now. Fifteen hours at 30,000 feet is almost mundane. Curling into a tiny ball, positioning my head against the concave form of the window and drifting off to sleep is no longer an impossible challenge.  I have become adept to this kind of travel in the four years that I’ve been part of building the Bible Translation program called MAST. A nd the honest truth is, for the most part I love it. I actually enjoy flying. I love seeing new places. I even like airplane food! I am a gypsy at heart. But of course, the best part is what I travel for.

All over the world  I meet fellow believers hungry for God’s Word, eager for help to get it translated into their own heart language. And I hear stories like this one Isaac of Southeast Asia told me last night:

He’s 93 years old, and he insisted on coming out of his village to be at the New Testament dedication. This is no easy journey. The first day he walked all day.”  Wait a minute! The first day? How many days did he travel?  I wonder.

“Then he traveled for 3 days by bus. It takes four days to get to the city from his village. But he had to come. He had to tell us how thankful he is to finally have Scripture in his language. With tears in his eyes he spoke to our group at the dedication. He thanked the translators and leaders of this project for finally getting the Scriptures for his people. His eyes are pretty bad. I don’t know if he can even read it for himself. But he is overwhelmed by joy and gratitude for what this means to his people.”

Wow! what a story! How precious this man’s years of waiting are in the eyes of our Father. How beautiful his grateful heart!

I am reminded of David’s reverence for God’s precious word.  “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path…Remember your word to your servant, upon which you have caused me to hope….the law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.” (Excerpts from Psalm 119)

And I am challenged.  Do I love God’s Word with this kind of fervor? I travel in relative comfort for a mere day to come to these workshops. But this man at 93 years old traveled for days, walked for hours, to be here. And he came simply to be a part of the community of God, rejoicing in the hope of God’s Word.

Sometimes I think the availability of Scripture in the English language curbs our appetite. It’s like we have a veritable buffet of Scripture options, and we take that for granted. It becomes a part of life for us, but it does not impart life. It becomes mundane. We have it. When we need it we can crack it open. We sing about it; we use it in worship services. We honor God’s Word with our lips, but our hearts are distracted.

When I hear stories like this one, I am reminded of how much His Word matters. And I pray that God will light the fire within me to value His Word like I should–that I might constantly find His word to be “the joy and rejoicing of my soul!”


Epiphany

Epiphany–from Greek meaning manifestation or appearance.

Matthew 2:11 “They saw the child with Mary his mother and falling on their knees they worshiped him…”

I grew up in a Christian home learning the stories of Scripture and receiving the gospel as a personal invitation to salvation as a mere child. In fact, one of my favorite things about my parents is their dynamic pursuit of Jesus. I also grew up in a missional home, one that saw the sharing of God’s good message with those who had never heard as an imperative.

So I wonder how I missed the celebration of Epiphany. Perhaps because of its orthodox roots, or its establishment by the Catholic church, it was not a holiday that our family knew much about.

But in recent years I’ve given some thought and study to this holiday–celebrated on January 6th and sometimes called, “The visit of the wise men.” I’m all for celebrating, especially celebrations that fill us with a deeper appreciation and value for God’s great work on our behalf.  And this holiday certainly qualifies as that.

Epiphany means a manifestation or appearing. The magi–wise men from the far east, came looking for that appearing. They knew this King of the Jews was a person worth celebrating. And the star in the heavens was their sign, their guide on their journey west. It is amazing to me, that a people from a pagan land, understood the sign God gave, and felt compelled to follow it. It is amazing to me that eastern wise men would bow to a King of a foreign, subjugated land. It is amazing to me that these men, likely the aristocracy of their culture, would travel for months–possibly even years–to find this King. The magi narrative is for me the most stunning of the advent story, not only because the wise men knew something many people miss– that this Child was worth dropping everything and running after; not merely because of the grandeur with which they worshiped, but because God’s plan, God’s divine initiative included people from far-off lands from the very beginning! And this story makes that evident.

The roots of celebrating the holiday known as Epiphany is the awareness that this visit from the wise men, is the first physical story in the Gospel narrative that includes non-Jews as worshipers of Jesus! Every Gentile Christian should celebrate this epiphany with joy and delight, because it was the confirmation that this Jesus was great news “for ALL people.” And every Jewish Christian should celebrate with great joy and delight as well, because it is the fulfillment of God’s prophecy to their father Abraham, “In you, all nations of the world will be blessed!” ALL nations! ALL people! Blessed by God, through the Jewish people. That’s the manifestation, the light, the appearing of Epiphany! And that is most certainly worth celebrating not just on January 6 each year, but every day. Jesus is good news for everyone! The wise men knew it, and they dropped everything to run and worship! Oh, that we would do the same!

 


Blessed is she…

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
These are the words of Elizabeth, full of the Holy Spirit, spoken to Mary as she arrived to visit. Imagine this greeting! What an affirmation it must have  been to Mary’s heart. Scripture does not give us a clear timeline, but it seems Mary went straight to Elizabeth’s, because the Bible does say she “hurried” to her cousin’s town. In my imagination she went without telling anyone about her impending pregnancy. She believed the angel, she knew what was coming, but the reality of how to tell her parents, her fiancé, her friends…that’s a different story all together. How would she convince them that she had not been promiscuous? The certain ridicule she would face must have weighed on her heart and mind.  Excited and overwhelmed she rushed to Elizabeth—a certain sanctuary, a place of refuge and understanding. After all Gabriel had let her on on Elizabeth’s secret. Mary knew this older cousin would provide wisdom and support for the uncertain days ahead.

And Mary wasn’t disappointed! From the moment she entered the house, Elizabeth offered just that. “Blessed are you among woman! And Blessed is the child you will bear!” Elizabeth cried out. She affirmed the message of the angel, even recognizing her own child’s womb dance as evidence its truth.  She reassured Mary that she had chosen well in believing the promise of the Lord.

Mary responded in humble faith to Gabriel’s message, “I am the Lord’s handmaid. May it be to me as you have said.” But what a long journey to see it fulfilled! This incredible promise of God would take nine months to birth. And during that time Mary most certainly faced rejection. Her fiancé had decided to divorce her, before the angel stepped in and told him not to. We don’t know how her parents responded but as the mother of teen-agers in this day and time I can  imagine their shock, ire, grief and helplessness. Oh, the fallout Mary faced in believing God’s promise.

On top of that, Roman political powers forced them to travel when Mary was almost ready to give birth. I can imagine her prayers, ‘God I don’t understand. I mean I trust you, but it seems like this just keeps getting harder. Isn’t there any way you could stop this trip from happening? I just want to be home to give birth.” I can imagine, because I’ve prayed those kinds of prayers before. If Mary did pray this, God said no.

So off they went on a journey to Bethlehem…where things got harder again. No room, anywhere. No place to stay. And Mary knew her time was close. Imagine what she might have prayed in her homeless, weary condition, “God, I don’t understand. How much harder is this going to get? Can you please provide a place.” And God said yes, but maybe not the yes Mary was looking for. A cattle stall. A cave for animals. A stable built not to shelter humans, but to house animals. That’s what God provided.

And that’s where Mary gave birth to His Son—The Lord of all creation—in this humble place. Alone, save Joseph, in a foreign town, in a stable.  Did Mary ever feel like, “When is the ‘blessed’ part coming?” I think I would have wondered that. If she did, the Bible doesn’t give a hint of that.   If she ever felt like God delivered less than she expected, she didn’t say it. Instead, Mary accepted His plan. She trusted His goodness. She obeyed without wavering. She marveled at the miraculous. And she pondered all these things quietly in her heart. She lived the blessing.