My first job in Chicago was at an agency up near the Wisconsin/Illinois border. That meant after 27 years of living in Florida, I found myself trekking up a two lane country road early one wintery morning to go to work. At the end of my day, I wiped off the snow on my car only to find a layer of ice clinging to my windshield. After diligently scraping the windshield I motored off towards home only to find the ice had also stuck to the roadways. Having never driven on ice before, I crept down the back road until I hit a stretch of road that ran between miles of barren fields. There I saw for the first time in my life snow drifts as big as houses beginning to cover the road. I distinctly remember thinking “I can’t be living in a place that has giant snow drifts. I’m from Florida!” I felt like I had mysteriously landed in someone else’s’ life. Maybe the hardest part of a journey isn’t always the first step; it’s just continuing to take the next step.
I wonder if Mary, Jesus’ mom, ever found it hard to take the next step? When the angel Gabriel visits her, Mary seems pretty confident. After hearing she’s to be the Mother of the Messiah, Mary’s a little frightened and confused , but eventually she says “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Such confidence, such faith.
But what about 9 months later when Mary is sitting on that donkey, knowing that baby’s coming no matter what and the inn keeper says there’s no rooms available? This is after her cross country donkey trek, her village bad mouthing her because she was an unwed mother and her fiancé almost disowning her. Did she wonder if she’d done something wrong? Maybe she thought she took a wrong turn somewhere. Surely it was hard to see her current circumstances as part of God’s plan.
It’s like lying in your marriage bed trying to remember the last time you and your spouse talked about anything other than events to attend, or chores to be done. Do you wonder if your marriage ended up in the wrong place? Or sitting in the counselor’s office talking about your worries and frustrations with your child that you dearly love. Is this the place God intended you to arrive? Difficult circumstances can make it harder to see God but he’s there. Trust me, He’s there.
Mary had plenty of negative circumstances that would tempt the average person to believe God had abandoned her, but not Mary. It was said of Mary in Luke 1:45 “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Mary didn’t just believe on the day Gabriel showed up. She believed enough to take each difficult step along the way. There are no wrong places in your life where God is not with you. Just look towards Him and go ahead,–take the next step.