Mary could see lights ahead. The town of Bethlehem is only about fifty bounces away on the blessed donkey.
Suddenly, the donkey stopped as if it knew what would happen.
Mary bent over in pain. The baby inside her was moving.
“Mary, do I need to carry you?”
Joseph was nervous. He did not want to lay his wife down on the dusty road to have this promised child.
Mary cried out to the Lord, “Oh Father, help me as You have been faithful to do. Is it time?”
Her stomach eased. She sat up straight. The donkey began trotting.
As if in slow motion, Joseph stood still watching them go by.
With lifted hands, he prayed, “Lord of all, yes I pray with Mary. We need Your help.”
With a sudden surge of adrenaline, Joseph ran ahead of them. His only thought now was to find them a place to stay the night. It is late. His wife needs to eat and rest … and maybe give birth.
The innkeeper slammed the door after hearing Joseph’s desperate plea.
Rejected and frustrated, Joseph condemned himself, for they should have left earlier in the day.
“What about over there?” Mary spoke calmly, her heart full of expectancy.
“The stable?” Joseph could not believe his ears.
“Yes, oh yes, Joseph. It is perfect. Set apart from town. As surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, I will need some privacy tonight.”
With that, Joseph led the donkey to be tied. Looking high and low, Joseph could not see signs of danger or ill-will. The open air could be good, he tried to convince himself. At least it balanced out the stench of animal dung.
Taking his wife’s hands in his, “Ok, Mary, this is the place. You know how I love you. I wanted more for you, for us, for our baby, well God’s baby.”
“I love you too. Can I get down now?”
Embarassed, Joseph, offered his arm as a rail as his more than pregnant wife put her small feet on the hay.
As soon as Mary stood, she doubled over again. A sudden rush of water flowed between her legs.
“Ahh! this is not pee. My blessed Elizabeth did not tell me about this!”
Mary’s thoughts began to circle. She wanted to remember Elizabeth’s every wise word about having her first child. The more she tried to focus in her own strength, the more confused she became.
“Joseph, it is time for us to be parents.” Crying, she sounded like a small child, “but I don’t know what I should do next, and I am all wet.”
In a hurry, Joseph patted down some hay. He wished the animals would go to sleep, as his wife would be exposed. But he didn’t have time for that …
Placing his hand on her bent back, Joseph led Mary to this make-shift bed. After he helped her lay down, he ran to the donkey to get his things. He had packed some cloth and water.
“Oh, Joseph, Oh Lord,” Mary shimmied her underthings off, bent up her knees. A sharp pain went right through her stomach.
Writhing and screaming, Joseph did not know whether to be by her or look away. His heart, full of compassion for her, went to her side.
Stars covered the sky, lighting the stable just enough to see the head of Jesus coming through Mary’s legs.
“Oh there he is! I can see his tuft of hair.” Joy arose from Joseph’s soul.
Mary looked to heaven and thanked God. Feeling this baby move through her body into the world, her fears melted, her worries seemed insignificant.
Yes, now she remembered. Elizabeth encouraged her with this wisdom: these babies God placed in our bodies are here on earth for heaven’s purpose, not our own. For all of us are made in His image. We do best to know our lives are not about us.
“It’s not about us,” she blurted with inexplicable freedom.
Mary knew one more push, and the feet of Jesus would be free from her womb. She could hear Joseph, who had left her side and was bent down between her legs, counting the baby’s fingers.
“OK, Lord, give me strength for now and always. AHHHHHH, yes!”
Mary was immediately lighter inside. The baby covered with her blood lay in the hay as Joseph wrapped him in cloth.
The sweetest sound …
A newborn voice, hailing to the world I have come. My Father has sent me.
Angels in the distance, glory, glory, glory. Their song of truth descends … covering every lie, every abuse.
Joseph placed the baby in Mary’s arms. She wiped the blood and tears from his precious face. Mary looked into his eyes, the eyes of Jesus. A healing light, a powerful presence of the Lord as she held him close. This light, she was sure, was in his eyes. Overcome with peace, Mary was confident in her next step.
She exposed her breast, nuzzled his mouth to her nipple, already leaking milk.
Jesus suckled gently yet firmly, not missing a drop.
Mary wondered if this confidence, both the baby’s and hers, would follow all their days. She wondered if she would hear the voice of God anymore as now she would live with Him.
Questions can derail our faith or embolden it.
In awe, Joseph watched the mother of God’s child do exactly as she was prepared to do. He noticed the animals watching. too. A light encircled Mary nursing Jesus and the animal witnesses.
Joseph supernaturally knew what was next. For the baby would be tired after his milk and need a place to lay. His eyes went right to the horse trough. Joseph went to clear it of water and pat it down with hay.
But the angel said to them,
Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger (Luke 1:10-12)
For years to come, Bethlehem was a holy place though very few understood what they missed the night of Jesus’s birth.
Those of us who try to fit God into a logical sequence are sadly lost.
Though Joseph wanted more than a stable for his wife and newborn son, God wanted less.
A dirty, smelly place following rejection from man. For whomever has ears to hear the Christmas story will know Our Lord and Savior came to the depths of humanity to know His people, to shepherd His sheep, to become them in all ways except sin.
For the One sacrificed for sin must be unblemished, the proper price paid for the world trapped by a fallen angel, full of pride and vengeance.
Yes, Mary, mother of Jesus continued to have trouble in this world, but she knew her Savior. She became a widow. She struggled to know all things of Jesus, but she stayed with her Savior from birth to death.
Isn’t that our journey? Knowing only in part, but remaining in Him from His birth to His death, experiencing rebirth in His resurrection, living all our days to bring Him glory.
Let us remember our hardships are used for His purposes, to grow us into His likeness as well as His orchestration of others on this earth. Let us place ALL our hope in Jesus, for we know His love never breaks and travels from the eternal realm to our present moment.
One moment can be life-changing. May we not close the door on these moments as the innkeeper did. Let us be shepherds who drop our earthly tasks to worship Our Lord, not only at Christmas but each day we have given breath.
Join me to pray:
Lord of all, You know us, our fears, our sorrows, our hurts, our brokenness. Lord, we at times question you when we cannot see the plans ahead. Like Mary, we struggle to know our worth, even though You are right there breathing life into us. Please forgive us for the ways we make this life about ourselves. For our worth is guaranteed in You, a bountiful inheritance. Yes, Lord, help us make You the center of our hearts, of our families, of our nation, of our world. We thank You for the blessed examples of humility in Mary, mother of Jesus … and Jesus Himself. May we pause this Christmas and offer You honor and praise and glory, glory, glory! We pray in Your glory more souls are saved this hour, Oh Lord of Creation. In Jesus name, Amen.
All photos are from Pixabay.com.
Please accept this story as my gift to you this Christmas. A gift I am able to give because it was given to me.
Love in Christ,