unexpected JOY…

I love this time a year. I love the excitement that Christmas brings out in people and I especially love the sound of kids singing Christmas carols proclaiming the birth of Jesus Christ.  This time of year brings back so many memories of programs, caroling, family, and presents.  

I have come to realize that many people go into the holidays dreading them.  I am not sure if it’s the preparation for guests, the demands of perfection (placed on by others or themselves), the baking and cooking, the hustle and bustle, or the years of not being appreciated for their hard work…but I remind myself that Christmas is to be about God’s Son, to share in the celebration of His birth, and to acknowledge the gift of His life and how it changed everything.

I started this Christmas season with a very special invite from a friend I had met this summer that happens to have an extra special chromosome in her family.  Her daughter, Molly, was also diagnosed at birth with Ds and we met through a mutual friend.  D sent me a message and invited me to come hear her speak about life with Molly at the Christmas women’s event at her church.  The title of the women’s program was Unexpected Joy.  

As I listened to D talk about her story I shed tears for many reasons.  Some were because my family also knows the pain of getting a diagnosis in a way that was not done with tact, professionalism, and tenderness.  (D’s husband was asleep on the couch next to her when they talked to her).  Other tears were for thanksgiving in having a Godly woman express some of the same feelings I had when receiving the news, the news that was not expected.   I had tears of healing, hearing again that I am not alone in the thoughts I have when raising a child with Down syndrome.  I had tears of relief hearing that there was a time she had to finally ask her family and close friends for help…as we are both the ‘do it yourself…pull up your boot straps’ kind of women.  Tears of gratefulness as I hear how much JOY that Molly’s life has brought to her life and those around her.  Could she have imagined the amount of  JOY she would have when she heard the diagnosis 2 years ago and her world changed forever.  I also had tears of thankfulness as I think of my sweet Jack and how his life brings me so much JOY.  

Unexpected Joy.  

There was another woman that experienced Unexpected Joy a long time ago…her name was Mary.  This young virgin girl, engaged to be married to Joseph, told she would carry a baby, and she would name him Jesus.  What…what?  Talk about news of the unexpected.  Not what Mary had envisioned when she was dreaming of her future…and how would she tell her fiancé, Joseph?  And Joseph…how does he respond to the unexpected news that his soon to be bride is pregnant.  How is he to believe such a story that an angel came and told her she would be pregnant with the Messiah?  Not exactly what he had planned for himself, I am sure.  But they both responded…obediently to what God had planned for them. 

What if they wouldn’t have responded?  What if Joseph would have left Mary and decided that he was to marry another?  He would have missed out on the biggest event in his life.  What if Mary would have not been willing to carry the child and not been obedient to the God she loved?  She would have missed out on being the mother of the Savior of the world.  

I think of the Innkeeper.  The guy that told a man and his fiance, a woman that had just traveled on a donkey at 9 months pregnant, that he had no room for them.  How did he respond when he realized he just turned away the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the Great I Am.  

Jason Gray writes a song from the perspective of the Innkeeper.  

Rest (The Song of the Innkeeper) 
I found them standing in my door
In the clumsy silence of the poor
I’ve got no time for precious things
But at least they won’t be wandering
If they’re sleeping on my stable floor

There were no rooms to rent tonight
The only empty bed is mine
‘Cause I’m overbooked and overrun
With so many things that must be done
Until I’m numb and running blind

I need rest, I need rest
Lost inside a forest of a million trees
Trying to find my way back to me
I need rest

As a boy I heard the old men sing
About a Kingdom and a coming King
But keeping books and changing beds
Put a different song inside my head
And the melody is deafening

I need rest, I need rest
Like a drowning man in the open sea
I need somebody to rescue me
I need rest

To Rome we’re only names and numbers

Not souls in search of signs and wonders
But we’re waiting for the day of our salvation
The messiah who will be our liberation
We’re waiting, I’m waiting

I need rest, I need rest
Oh come oh come Emmanuel
With a sword deliver Israel
I need rest

Tonight I can’t get any sleep
With those shepherds shouting in the streets
A star is shining much too bright
Somewhere I hear a baby cry
And all I want is a little peace

How many of us will miss the greatest thing that could happen to us because we don’t respond?  How many of us will not respond in faith to God’s plan when we receive the news of the unexpected?  How many of us are going to miss out on the JOY…the Unexpected Joy?

Christmas Poem by Amena Brown
unlikely situations :God often interrupts our expectations and births His plans in the most unlikely situations.

Merry Christmas! 

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