The other night my two little girls and I went on a walk after dinner. We have been doing this more lately as houses around us are starting to put up their Christmas lights. So we bundled up, they jumped into the stroller, and we took off. As our walk progressed we decided to sing some Christmas songs and then my oldest, Grace, suggested we tell stories. She told a very elaborate story about a golden eagle that was quite interesting. When my turn came, I decided to tell a shorter version of the Christmas story; I figured, “It’s was the season so why not?” As I got to the part about Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, I started to get a fresh perspective on this timeless story I have heard countless times.
“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7
We all know the story, but what stood out to me was that Mary and Joseph both had miraculous encounters with an angel of the Lord as they had been chosen to be the parents of Jesus the Messiah. Promise, destiny, fulfilled prophecy and direction from the Lord, all pretty exciting right? The kind of stuff we all love and desire! Although there were some hurdles along to the way, they both received the word and began the journey to see this promise become a reality. They didn’t know how it was going to work out, but they stepped out in faith. I started thinking about how hard this journey really was. My wife is pregnant with our third child and while a new baby is filled with excitement, expectation, and incredible joy, the process is no walk in the park at times, especially for my wife. Put yourself in Mary and Joseph’s situation as they came into Bethlehem. They are at the end of a very long journey, Mary was ready to pop, and they couldn’t find a place to stay! How would you feel?
As I am recounting this story to my girls, the traditional romanticized effect that often surrounds this historic night faded! The reality of sleeping with animals, the potential frustration they might have been feeling, and all the hardships they faced to see this promise through really hit me. I thought about my own journey and the realities I know many encounter as they go after dreams and promises the Lord has given them. You see, we all are called to walk in promise and the destiny of Heaven. This story reminded me that the journey to the promise is often what separates many from actually seeing the fulfillment. It is here where we are refined and our character is developed. We are tested and our trust and faith in God is revealed. Thank goodness that Mary and Joseph didn’t give up when the promise didn’t come easy, that Jesus didn’t shrink back from the cross because it was too hard. You see, not only was the promise fulfilled, but also their perseverance impacted those around them. Mary and Joseph walked out their journey and their lives were a significant part of the eternal plan for Son of God coming to dwell among us! But it didn’t stop there; they impacted the world where they were. I love the part of the story where the hosts of angels appear and the shepherds encountered the glory of God.
“8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Luke 2:8-20
When people grab onto the destiny, promises, and dreams that come from Heaven and walk them out, no matter the process. The kingdom is released and others around them encounter the glory of God! I believe that campuses, businesses, political arenas, movie sets, classrooms, sports teams and every area of culture you can think of is “waiting for the sons (and daughters) of God to be revealed” (Romans 8:18). Your gifts and passions surrendered to the Lord and done for His glory become the platform for His kingdom to be released through you and into your world. Unfortunately, too many of us lose heart and throw in the towel prematurely.
You are where you are for a reason. Don’t give up or lose heart when you don’t see the promise right away, it’s coming! This Christmas season think about the story of Mary and Joseph and the incredible gift of Jesus we celebrate. Remember that these two walked out the process from encounter to promise and as a result, all of history was changed and those around them encountered Heaven. God has called you to release the kingdom of God in your world right where you are, right now!