Each night this month I have been reading this really good book to my boys.
It doesn't really matter where I got it, or when - but I do recommend it. Every day she gives 1) little "hints for the holidays" - basic stuff like today is the day to mail packages, or why don't you start a family tradition 2) A Christmas activity like making your own ornaments, or going caroling and 3) a devotion. Technically, the devotions are too old my kids (which means they are WAY over Zion's head) but we still read them out loud as a family. Sometimes they speak more to one family member, some nights more to another. December 10th was my night to listen. She pointed something out, and now that I have thought about it, I really don't know why I have never thought about it before....
Mary, (and Joseph) knew the prophecies about the Messiah. They knew that he was supposed to be born in Bethlehem. But here they were, miles and miles from Bethlehem, with a life to live. An angel had already appeared out of the sky, and then in a dream and messed up their entire "plan" for their lives. But they said "okay" to the angel, and thus, to God himself. A simple yes, or in the old King James "I am the Lord's Handmaiden". The Bible doesn't talk much about the months in between the Yes and the birth. Mary went to visit Elizabeth, and John the Baptist danced in her womb- Angels announced the arrival of the Savior of mankind.
What did Mary think, feel, worry about, pray for, stress over during that time? Did she worry if he was growing the right way? Was she afraid she would eat the wrong thing and make him sick? Did her feet swell, and her back ache and did she have to pee every 5 minutes? Did she wonder how in the world she could have the Messiah in her belly, and how he could fulfill prophecy, when she didn't even live in the right town? What about the prophets? Didn't they count for anything? Did she wonder, and fret and try to work it out on her own?
Because I probably would have. I would have started looking for a way to get to Bethlehem by myself. "Joseph, honey, don't you think we should move? I heard they need good carpenters in Bethlehem." I might have whined. I certainly would have pleaded with God on a regular basis for intervention.
I can almost promise that I would not have sat back calmly and waited for God to sent a world wide TAX in order to get me where I needed to be, at the exact moment I needed to be there. Even after God has fixed it all, I sometimes have a hard time seeing the positive He brings. There is no way I could have imagined it before it happened! I am not that creative.
Luckily, I know someone who is. HE is so creative, that he used a tax to fulfill prophecy, and a star to guide educated men, and a young, uneducated girl to birth the greatest life ever. And that is just from one story, about one life, in one book.
There is so much to be learned from Mary, and she is just one of the side stories.
That is my goal this Christmas. To learn from Mary. I want to seek with eagerness and anticipation the "tax" in my life. It may come from a worldly "king", and it may seem an inconvenience, but it will get me where I need to be in order to fulfill what I need to fulfill. So I know that when it all boils down, it comes from God. I am sure that some days, after riding on a donkey for miles on end, then eating over an open fire, and sleeping in the open air - with a belly full of the Savior of the world to boot- Mary might have had a hard time seeing the good in the tax. But it was always God's plan, and He used it. I, like Mary, need to remember that tax equals good, no matter what it feels like at the moment.