“She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.”
They placed him on my chest – a wet, wiggling, precious package.
Hubby and I may have felt that we three were the only ones in the room, but we weren’t.
Not by a long shot.
A midwife was in attendance. A couple of nurses wiped our wee one down and wrapped him up, taking deft measurements with practiced hands. An intern watched the proceedings closely. A doctor presided. The entire hospital would have been at our disposal, had we needed it.
All went according to plan.
Baby had a whole wardrobe, newborn diapers, receiving blankets at the ready. A brand new car seat graced the back seat of our vehicle, awaiting the moment we would be discharged and on our way to begin our new family adventure.
I can’t imagine how frustrated I would have been if things had taken a turn for the smelly.
I mean, how badly would it stink for there to be no clean place to lie down to give birth? No medical team. No pristine, sterile environment with instruments and equipment at the ready. No midwife. No drugs to take the edge off the worst contractions.
Like, how awful if I had given birth in a barn. In a strange community. In the middle of the night. With no help.
If I had been Mary, I’d have had something to say about that.
I’d question the timing. (Did we have to be travelling away from home right at my due date?) I’d question God’s planning abilities. (You couldn’t have arranged to have one hotel room free?) I’d complain about the quarters (this really stinks!) and the company (ditto!) and the general sense of chaos and earthiness of such a lowly birthplace.
But where else could the baby be born who would be called the Lamb of God but in a barn?
Don’t miss it.
We’ve seen the nativity scene so many times, we miss the shock value. We miss the strangeness, the completely audacious unexpectedness of so odd a detail in the story.
We miss the beautiful symbolism of the perfect match between the manger and the fact that a feeding trough would hold the Good Shepherd.
Is there something that stinks in your life right now?
I bet there is.
I bet you’ve questioned what God could possibly be doing in the middle of that mess.
I want to remind your heart today that God can and will use odd, unusual, and downright stinky circumstances to get His point across and to underline the Truth that He loves and cares for you, that He is working things out for your good, and that He always, always has a reason for the things He allows that simply don’t seem to make sense to us at the time.
The Bible doesn’t tell us whether Mary questioned her strange circumstances or the way her baby was born. I’m sure her expectations were a far cry from her reality.
Yet God has used her story to revolutionize the world.
And He can do the same with yours.
Trust God with the details of your life when they don’t make sense with me?
Father, if we had planned the occasion of Your Son’s birth, we would have done it so differently! Yet the way You planned it holds so much richness and symbolism and there is so much in it to unpack, we could spend a lifetime studying and pondering and never see it all. Thank You that You brought such hope and joy out of such odd and ‘smelly’ circumstances! Amen.