I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Mary and Joseph (wonder why) and one thing that struck me for the first time was that they must have felt terrible when Jesus was born.
Think about it. Mary, who is legally bound to Joseph, becomes pregnant before the wedding day. Joseph, instead of divorcing her quietly, as he was tempted to do, takes her public shame and covers it with marriage. Now, not only does Mary look bad for being pregnant, but people are probably looking at Joseph and thinking either he sinned and the Child is his, or he has no problem with Mary’s apparent sin and is guilty by association.
I’m sure they were the biggest scandal to hit their town in quite a while.
Then Joseph and Mary make the long journey to Bethlehem and end up spending the night in the stables with the animals, where Mary goes into labor.
If I were in their shoes, I would have panicked. Mary has known this whole time that she is carrying the Messiah and Joseph has just had a confirming dream. They must be feeling overwhelming pressure. And they end up in a situation where the King of kings, the Savior of the world, is going to be born in the hay, amidst animal droppings and half chewed food.
Joseph and Marry must have wondered where they went wrong.
Their circumstances were as far from ideal as it gets. They must have wanted to give so much more to God. They must have expected it to be so much more glorious than it was.
If I were them, I would have felt like I’d let God down, by allowing His Son to be born in such a place, to disgraced parents, with nobody caring about the birth except for a few shepherds.
I think we all feel like that from time to time. We sit down and sing the shoulda’/coulda’/woulda’s, tasting the bitter regret of having failed God.
I know I have. I’ve sacrificed a lot to be where I am today. Only, where I am isn’t where I expected to be. Not even close.
I feel like I let God down. I expected my sacrifices to produce something so glorious for Him. My struggles in obedience, my striving to do His will… it all seems empty now. I wonder where I went wrong.
When we feel God’s calling on our lives, we start to dream big. We think of all the things we want to do for Him, all that we want to accomplish for His Kingdom. But the accolades we plan are not what matter to God.
I’m going to do something completely uncharacteristic now and quote Disney, because it’s what popped into my head as I was writing this. In the movie Mulan, a young woman sets out to bring her family honor and ends up saving China. But when she returns home and offers the Emperor’s gifts to her father, he throws them aside and tells her, “The greatest gift and honor, is having you for a daughter.”
God prizes people.
God is after you. He is after your heart. He is after your love and obedience. He wants to be your Dad.
The successes and honors of this world mean nothing to Him. He planned for His Son to be laid in a manger, instead of in a palace. He planned for me to write this to an audience of 100+ instead of 100,000+.
He does not value the things of this world like we do. He values us.
So if you, like me, are harboring regrets, let them go and grab hold of God.
Because you are all He’s ever wanted. And by making Him all you want, you bring Him glory.