My wife, our daughter, and I were returning from the memorial service for a friend in east Tennessee. Stephanie, our daughter, was providing our music from Pandora on her iPhone. A song came up that I had probably heard before, but the words suddenly got my attention. “A Strange Way to Save the World” is written from Joseph’s perspective and points out the incongruity of the birth of the Savior in Bethlehem. Joseph voices his wonder at the strange way that God has chosen to work. Imagine, God was placing the plan for the salvation of the world in the hands of a teenage girl and a village craftsman!
The song reminds me that our God works in unusual and paradoxical ways more times than we imagine. So many of us are obsessed with planning and control that we rarely leave time and space for God to intervene in our lives. Is this because we do not really believe that God might break through the ordinary, mundane things of life? Are we so satisfied with the way that we are doing things that we don’t think that God can improve on our plans?
As I reflect on my own spiritual walk, the challenge for me is to be more open to the intervention of the Spirit of God into my life. I am sure that there are many times that I have missed a blessing that God had for me because I was too organized, busy, or self-assured. I need to leave more space for the Spirit to step in and surprise me!
The lesson of Bethlehem is that God works in simple ways that sometimes seem foolish to us but accomplish God’s purposes. As the writer of Job noted, “God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; God does great things beyond our understanding.” (Job 37:5)
As it was then, so should it be today.
(Originally posted on December 22, 2011)