from December 2014:
This week I’ve realized how important it is to see beyond our circumstances. That’s occurred to me mostly as I’ve pondered the Christmas story. In Luke 2, where we read the story of the Savior’s birth, there are just two verses where we learn about Mary: “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19) and then later, when Christ is 12 and preaching at the temple, “…but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart” (Luke 2:51). Those stood out to me because they just seemed so out of place. We read of all the things happening, and then they seem to pause for a moment and we learn that Mary was taking it all in.
I know the song goes, “Mary did you know…” but from the scriptures we know that she knew quite a bit. The angel Gabriel appeared to her and from that she knew Christ would be the Savior. She knew that she would conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost. She knew that she was on a path pleasing to God, since He had chosen her to birth and raise His son.
But she didn‘t know He’d be born in a manger.
She didn‘t know she’d have to make a 70-mile trek to Bethlehem.
She didn‘t know that the inns would be so crowded that she’d end up essentially in a cavity of a rock, giving birth to her first child.
She didn‘t know any of that.
You have to wonder, what exactly was Mary thinking?
She was a great woman, to say the least, but maybe, just maybe, she thought things would have gone easier, or more simply. Maybe she thought there would have been a place prepared for her, at least to give birth. Maybe that’s what she would have expected. It’s what I would have, if I had known that I was playing an integral role in God’s plan. And how often are we like that? We’re doing what’s right, we’re sure that we’re on the right path, and things are just not as easy as we’d expected. They’re tricky and sticky and it just seems like, if we were really doing what was right, life would be a lot more simple.
I think what we can learn from Mary, and from the story of Christ’s birth in a manger, is that God is at work even when it looks like He isn’t.
And that’s the fun part—having the faith to ride into Bethlehem anyway, trusting that something great is happening, something beyond what our mortal eyes can see.