¿Habla español?

Only God Knows

Thanks to my husband, we have a tradition in the Lexin household of listening to soul music while we decorate for Christmas.  It is a lively, unconventional soundtrack that includes artists like Clarence Carter, Otis Redding, and James Brown.  One of James Brown's songs is echoing in my mind this year with even more frequency: Let's Make Christmas Mean Something this Year.  In the song, James Brown muses about thankfulness and nostalgia between the repetitive chorus, "let's make this Christmas mean something this year!"  As much as I can get behind that chorus, there is another line a couple of minutes in, that really has my attention, "only God knows how Christmas is gonna look."

Only God knows…truer words were never set to music!  The pandemic news is grim as we head into the Christmas season creating uncertainty about what we can afford to give this year, who we can share our table with, and even what groceries we will be able to find.  If you have been decorating or baking or watching Christmas movies ahead of your usual schedule, you are not alone, largely because we are all in tune with the reality of that lyric, "only God knows how Christmas is gonna look!"

Of course, there is a deeper truth to that statement as well.  From the very beginning there has been an unpredictable nature to Christmas.  Everything about pinning the hopes of the world on a vulnerable infant, born into poverty and scandal, is unusual.  Can you imagine what the conversation would have been between world leaders or military generals, or even parents, if God suggested his salvation plan in some kind of brainstorming session?  How could the little guy change anything?  How long would we need to wait for the military victory?  How can we convince anyone to follow someone with no reputation?  How could you subject your own child to that life?  Only God knows.

It is such an unlikely story that it still amazes me!  I think about the dialogue Luke records between Mary and the angel as he tells her about her part in God's plan.  Mary asks, "how?"  I imagine her question is humble and sweet, though I know that when I ask God "how," it is typically with a bit of an attitude, often loaded with doubt, and sometimes even challenging whether God should be doing that at all.  The angel answers Mary's question by explaining a few of the details, and adds
"For with God nothing will be impossible."
Luke 1:37 (RSV)

Only God knows what we really need and who is capable of curing what ails us.  And though our challenges both globally and personally seem insurmountable, with God nothing will be impossible.  That is why only God knows; the rest of us have limited resources and imaginations.  We are bound by our natural abilities and what already exists, but God knows no boundaries and is supernatural in every way--even able to speak into existence what is not yet there.  Thankfully, God is not limited by my doubt, my fear, or my desire to control the plan.  I just have to agree to letting God do his thing.  Mary's conversation with the angel ends with her words of surrender
"let it be to me according to your word."
Luke 1:38 (RSV)

In this season of searching for cures to a virus, to racism, to loneliness, anxiety and grief, we can still choose to seek first the Kingdom of God.  As we long to gather close those we love, we can ensure Jesus is on the guestlist.  And even in the awareness of our own need this year, we are still able to help others.  In these ways, we can do our best to join James Brown in his chorus to make Christmas "mean something" this year.  However, despite every well-planned effort and well-meaning gesture, we will still be unable to predict how Christmas will look.  In that, I will surrender (or try to) and say along with Mary, "let it be."

No Comments



1 Kings 12 Days of Christmas 20 minutes 2020 Acts Adonai American way America Antelope Valley Apostle Paul Apostle's Creed Bibile Bible study Bible Birmingham Book of Acts But God COVID-19 COVID Calvary Charlies Angels Christian Voter Guide Christian home Christmas Church Colossians Communication Confessional Prayer Corinthians Dallas Willard David Devotional Doing Life Together Eastertide Easter Ecclesiastes Emmanuel Ephesians Epiphany Esther Father in Heaven Father's Day Father Galatians God With Us God first God is good God of peace God still Moved God's Will God\'s Will Good Friday Gospel of John Gospel of Luke Gospel of Mark Gospel of Matthew Happy Father's Day Hawaii Hebrews Holy Spirit Hosea How are you doing How to Pray I want that Instagram Isaiah 43 Isaiah James Brown James Jenna Bush Hagar Jeremiah 29:11 Jeremiah Jesus John 3:16 John Hughes John Wesley John Judy Garland King David Kingdom Come Kingdom of God Leadership Lectio Divina Light of the World Lord Love is Love your neighbor Luke MLK Malachi Mama Bear Mark Martin Luther King Jr. Mary Matthew Memorial Day Merry Christmas Micah 6:8 Micah Molly Ringwald Monday Night Manna Mother Hen Mothers Day Nancy Drew Nehemiah New Testament Old Testament Only God Knows Paul Pentecost Peter Philippians Prince Phillip Prince of Peace Proverbs 13 Proverbs Psalm 10 Psalm 139 Psalm 23 Psalm 40 Psalm 42 Psalm 46 Psalms of Joy Pursuing the Presence of God Queen Elizabeth Revelation Romans Ruth Haley Barton Savior Sermon Sheridan Voysey Son of God Son of Man Son Spider Man Sunday School Surprised by Joy TV Target Thanksgiving The Free Market The Lord's Prayer The Sound of Music Timothy Titanic Today Show Twelfth Night Veggietales Voter Guide Wizard of Oz Women in Leadership Women of Faith Women's Bible Study abide abstain accused act justly action adoration adventure advice advocate afraid allelon alone anchor anger answers anxiety app art ask attack authority awe awkward back to school balance baptism be kind be open be prepared be still and know beaten and condemned beauty and struggle beauty belief believe belonging betrayed by a kiss betrayed black friday blackbelt blameless bleeding woman blessed blessing blog body bond bookmark book boundaries breadsticks broken brotherhood burden butter called by God called by name called carbs care cause celebrate centered in Christ challenges change childbirth children choice choosejoy choose christian christ chronic illness church nerd alert church online citizen civil rights clean hearts cleaning comfort comment community compassion into action compassion compost confession of faith confession conflict resolution conflict confusion connection connect consumer culture contemplative prayer conversation with God conversation corruption court tv court creation creative juice creativity cross crucified and kind crucified crucify dad dating daughtership daughters death defense delight denied depression differently abled disabled discernment discipleship discipline discovery discrimination distracted divine divinity do good do the action donate doughnuts dreams dream early church eating disorder eden election emotional health emotions empathy encouragement endurance enjoy enough excess expectations failure faithfulness faith fall family dynamics family fun family of God family systems family fangirl fasting fast favorite scripture favorite things fear feel find and follow Jesus fine flexible forgiveness forgive free time freedom free friendship friends fruit funeral fun future gaining faith galaxy garden generations generosity genesis gift give it away give life giving goals god good news good shepherd gospels gospel government grace of God grace grass is always greener gratitude gravy great cloud of witnesses green bean casserole green thumb grief grieve grit groups growth ham hangover happiness harmony harsh truth head healing healthy habit heart sick heart help holding tight holidays holiday homeless homeostasis homeschool honor hope deferred hope how the Lord speaks how to read scripture how to talk about loss how to worship how to humanity human humility humor innocent inspiration intercessory prayer intimacy introvert invitation isolation join journal journey joy just believe justice kids kindness kind kingdom of heaven knock lament laughter learn lent let it be life together light listen live loneliness longing losing faith loss love in action love mercy love story love the Lord love loving like Jesus magi map marathon march marginalized marriage mashed potatoes meditation memorial memories mental health mentalhealthmonth messiah momlife mom motivated by joy mourn moved with compassion move mystery navigate need neighbors neighbor new beginning new normal new season new year newlywed news new nickname normal not alone not easy note to self nothing but joy nourishment now and not yet nowandnotyet nurse offering one body online overflowing with gratitude pain pandemic parenting parents pastor patience patient peacemaker peacemaking peace perseverance personal prayer perspectives perspective petition phillipians pity planted by water plan play something podcast politics potatoes practice of confession practicing gratitude pray for pastors pray without ceasing prayer request prayerwarrior prayer praying praywithoutceasing pray preach prepare presence of God present priortize prize promise of God promise prophetic psalms psalm purpose quarantine questioning God questions quiet race read reconciliation reconnect recovery reevaluate reflect regather regret rejoice relationships relationship remember repentance repost research resilience resources respect rest resurrection retreat rhythms riot road to the cross roles routine ruby slippers rules sabbath sacred sadness safe at home safe salvation scalloped potatoes schedule scripture about justice scriptures about fear scriptures about joy scriptures about peace scriptures about race scriptures scripture searching seasons season seek self-care self-denial self-differentiation serve serving share shelter at home shepherds signs silence simple pleasures single dad single mom single parent sing sinking sink slowly smile sober social distancing social media soil solitude sonship soul care soul music spiritual disciplines spiritual health spiritual practices spirit spring stars starting point star stayathome still good stop and look up storm storytelling streams of water strength stress struggleisreal study success sudden suffering of Christ suffering summer support surrender take heart talking with kids teacher tears technology template thank God the truth is out there the truth will set you free the way the truth and the life theology thessalonians think thisistheday time tithe to be honest together traditions transformed transition trauma treasure tree of life trials trust and obey trust in the Lord trust truth turkey understanding unfailing love unity universe vacation vice president virtual voices volunteer vote vulnerable waiting waking up walk humbly we cannot go back weather wedding welcome welcoming prayer wisdom wise counsel woman at the well woman caught in adultery women pastors women wonder worry worship yield youmatter zoom