As I read the account of Christmas in the Gospel of Luke this morning, I was so impacted. This is not only the recounting of the greatest event in human history, it holds messages that are so relevant to us today. In Luke 1:37-38, the angel Gabriel ends his shocking news to Mary by saying, “For nothing is impossible with God.” Mary replies, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” I am humbled by Mary’s attitude. Laying down her future plans, her reputation and her physical comfort (not to mention risking death, as pregnancy outside of marriage was punishable by stoning!), she wanted God’s will above all else. I wonder how different our lives would be if we daily reminded ourselves that nothing is impossible with God, and then humbly bowed before our Lord in the prayer, “May it be to me as you have said.” That is how I want to begin every day. Verse 45 of that same chapter reads, “Blessed is she who has believed what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” What has the Lord said to us? He said: our sins are forgiven through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; He has good plans for us— plans that are beyond all we can ask or imagine; He will use everything in our lives for our good and His glory; He “has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” 2 Timothy 1:7. How blessed we are if we believe these things. He is our hope. This is the message of Christmas.
I continued reading past the Christmas account. Although I am sure I have read Luke 5:15 many times, it never hit me like it did today. After Jesus healed a leper, “news about [Jesus] spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses.” What was Jesus’ response to this great need? With so many needs to be met—and He seemingly the only one who could meet them—He would have had to sacrifice everything else and work around the clock, and still never reach the end of the human need crying out to Him. The second half of the verse says, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Wow! I usually feel like I am being pulled in a million directions at once, don’t you? There is so much that needs to be done, and it can seem like I must be the one to do the tasks. Yet, if Jesus made sure to often withdraw to lonely places to meet with His Father—if the creator of the universe needed time often to regroup and rest and praise and seek counsel from God—how could I ever think that I could carry my responsibilities without the same commitment to prayer.
This reminds me of a women’s Bible study class I attended. At the time, my children were five and under, and I felt quite stretched in trying to keep up with my many roles. The teacher emphasized our need to spend much time in prayer and suggested we begin each day in prayer, even if that meant letting other tasks go. I asked her how I would explain to my husband that I had taken time to pray instead of doing the laundry. She said the Lord would redeem the time—that I might be surprised to find that I accomplished more when I set aside the first part of the day in prayer. She was right. I began to give the first part of my day to the Lord. I could never claim that I then kept up perfectly at home or in other roles. That has never been true. But I consistently find that my day—and every task in it—goes more smoothly and more peacefully when I begin with prayer. God has invited us to “pray without ceasing” I Thessalonians 5:17. The more I follow this advice, the more peace I have, whether my to-do list shrinks or grows.
For Christmas this year, I wish you three things. Above all else, I hope you know Jesus as your Savior and Lord. I am praying the Lord will make Himself more real to each of you as you ponder this great mystery of Christmas and of God’s great love for you. The second gift I wish for you is a deep, childlike faith in God’s power to do anything—that truly nothing is impossible for Him. We encourage you to write down whatever seems impossible to you, put the paper in your hands and hold your hands out before the Lord, asking Him to do the impossible for you. Finally, I wish for you a life of prayer—a journey of walking with and talking with God every step of the way. May His still, small voice calling out to each of us ring clearer and be more appealing than all the other noise that is vying for our attention at any given moment. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6-7.
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord” Luke 2:10.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests” Luke 2:14.