It wasn’t supposed to be this way. There was supposed to be time. Time for us to prepare. Time for us to buy the crib, the layette items, the nursery furniture. Time to pack our bags for the hospital. Time to decide about an epidural. Most importantly, time for us to ready our hearts, our marriage, our lives, for the new addition soon to be. But God.
It was a beautiful, hot, southern summer day. The air was stifling, but nothing out of the ordinary for an Alabama summer. My due date was 15 weeks away, and there was no sign of baby anytime soon. Until suddenly there was. After two weeks of hospital bed rest, our tiny baby had arrived. Sudden and unexpected, 13 weeks early. The length of a Barbie doll with her head the size of an apple. Her untimely entry into this fallen world frightened us to say the least. We became unsure of the future, and unsure of God’s plan for all of our lives. We would soon find out, however, that she would end up being the biggest blessing we could have ever dreamed of.
As young mothers, we often compare ourselves to others in our shoes. Only, when I looked around, nothing we were experiencing compared to any of my friends. I felt alone. Scared. Reliance on God was my only hope.
I often wonder if that’s how Mary felt before Jesus came. She was so young - just a teen - so unassuming. For her and Joseph, there was supposed to be marriage, a home, a comfortable place for them to raise a family. Then suddenly and unexpectedly there was an angel, foretelling of her future. There would be no marriage, no planning, not even a room in which to bring Him into the world.
Just as little girls grow up playing house and pretending to be a mommy, it is likely that Mary was told of the coming Messiah all of her life. What a surprise to learn that she would be the blessed soul to bring Him into this fallen world. But likewise what uncertainty, what fear! Of course when she looked around at her peers, she found no one in her shoes. She was alone. Reliance on God was her only hope.
In her day, Mary wasn’t able to reference scripture to calm her nerves. She wasn’t able to pick up her Bible, or a computer, or a smart phone and do a quick Google search for “Ways to calm an anxious heart.” We are certainly blessed to have such technology at our fingertips. But sometimes, the answers to our searching can come in the most surprising ways. You need only be still and know (Psalm 46:10). Perhaps it will be the words of others that God puts in your path.
For our family, those words came from a prayer warrior, a close family friend, that visited us in the hospital one Sunday, unannounced, as many had done in those two weeks. At the end of the visit, he asked if he could pray for us. In his prayer, he spoke these words: “Lord, please give Jessica and Owen, Your peace that passes all understanding, and let them by prayer and petition present their requests to You...” A familiar reference to Philippians 4:7, a simple, heartfelt prayer.
For Mary, the angel Gabriel was her source. A surprise visit, unexpected and unknowing, she was commanded: “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.” (Luke 1:30) And you know what? In that instant, her terrified but brave mind went from anxious to unafraid. She trusted in the word of the angel, in the word of the Lord, and proceeded to continuously praise God for the blessing to come (Luke 1:46-55).
Likewise, in the very moment of the prayer spoken over me, I was given a complete peace - one that truly surpasses all of my earthly understanding - that our little miracle baby was going to be just fine. And like Mary, I will never stop praising God for His blessing.
So this Christmas season, and as you enter into the new year, I encourage you to read the story of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2). Stop and meditate on His word, find the peace in the uncertainty. And keep your eyes and ears open. You just may be an unexpected visit away from the peace you seek in your life. Once you find it, don’t keep it to yourself! Go and tell (Matthew 28:19), so others may experience the peace of God in Christ Jesus.
~ Jessica Prescott