I had a carefully constructed plan for my life, and this isn’t it.
I might be a poor, uneducated man but I know what I want from life – a wife, children, and a steady line of work to put food on the table. Last year, when I’d secured my betrothal to a virtuous and lovely maiden, I was sure my future would unfold according to plan. Now, I’m sure of nothing.
The teachers say the mind of the Lord is unknowable, but it would be nice to have some insight. I wish I knew what He was doing.
I feel like a coward, fleeing the scandal surrounding the pregnancy and our quick wedding, but the whispered remarks have driven away business and I must provide for my family, even this child who isn’t mine. In a new city we can begin again, without the stains of the past. It was with that hope that I embraced the call for registration and its required journey to the home of my ancestors. Even in her delicate state, my wife was eager to join me. But now, I wonder if we were too hasty. This trip has been hard on her and I’m afraid she may give birth too soon.
We should have arrived yesterday, but the travel was more difficult than we anticipated and now my wife’s pains have started. A man has no place at the birthing of a child, but I may not have a choice. There is no one, but me, to attend to her until we make it to the city. Please haste our feet, Lord.
The city is nothing as we expected. The streets teem with people, travelers like us, and the crowd jostles us. My wife's pains are more regular now as I search for a place to birth the babe. She doesn’t complain, but I read the desperation growing on her face as we are turned away again and again. Are there no rooms left in the city?
A stable. The only place I can find is a stable. I am not a violent man, but I want to hit something. My wife deserves more than this. I apologize again as I try to make her comfortable on the straw. This wasn’t my plan. What are you doing Lord?
Finally, the sounds of my wife’s travail give way to the sweet mewing of a newborn. As promised, she’s born a son. With clumsy fingers, I assist in the swaddling. My wife is exhausted, but still she summons the energy to suckle the babe before seeking her own slumber. Nothing today went according to plan, but we are finally here and the baby was born safe. I have much to be thankful for. I place the contented child in a small manger before joining my wife in rest.
Excited voices rouse me from sleep. As I wipe grit from my eyes, a group of men enter the stable. They smell strongly of sheep and I wonder if we will be sharing the small space with a flock, but I am surprised as the men come in quiet reverence and kneel before the manger. My wife watches in silent acceptance, but I must know how this has come to be. In soft tones they answer all my questions and I believe them fully. Their story is no more fantastic than my own.
As the shepherds leave, I stare in silent wonder at the sleeping babe in the manger. Was this the Lord’s plan all along?
Luke 2:7 – And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
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