Can you imagine the stench?
Joseph has walked and Mary ridden 90 miles in the scorching sun, the wind whipping around their faces and caking them with dust from the dirt road. More sweat pours from Mary’s brow as she experiences the pains of labor for the first time. The stable is packed with all the travelers’ animals. Flies buzz around them in the heat and the air is heavy with the smells of sickly sweet hay and manure.
And into this, a baby enters.
I have witnessed this kind of birth before. Woman sighs and baby falls right into the dirt, and in the dark of a tiny mud hut, with the light of just a thin candle, our eyes search for something, anything, sharp to cut the cord. Water is a luxury and too far to fetch at this hour so we wrap the baby in whatever filthy rag-scraps we can find without even wiping her off first.
Joseph, still merely a child himself, searches for anything he can find in the dim light to cut the cord and swaddle his child, probably rags carrying the afore mentioned stench and the dirt of the journey. Trembling and exhausted they wrap Him as best they can, and swatting flies away lay him in the same trough out of which these animals have been eating.
Behold, the Savior.
And in this moment God fulfils every promise and every prophecy. This, God’s perfect time. God does not wait for the world to get ready, He enters right into the mess.
He makes Himself very least, no more status or opportunity than an easily overlooked infant in the slums where I spend so many hard hours. Very least so that He can commune with the very most desperate – you and me. He doesn’t mind that I am not ready yet and He doesn’t mind the wretched condition of my heart or the stench of my sin. God’s time is now and He enters into the mess, ready or not.
His perfect timing, now. Now is where He has called us. And we are just not ready yet. We need to clean up the house a bit and pray a little more and seek more counsel and we don’t know how to do that yet and oh, we have our excuses. And God says, “I’m here now, and I am ok with the mess because I am here for the messy.”
God doesn’t need us to be ready for Him; He has been ready for us since the beginning of time and the Messiah is here calling us to commune with the Holy One, to eat at His table.
I want the house to be organized and kids to be clean and nicely dressed and I want dinner to come out of the oven on time, but at the end of the day they laundry still piles and there are still crumbs in the corner and can anyone remember if I brushed my teeth today? And it can’t be the New Year yet because I am just not ready for it to be a new year yet.
But I remember when I wasn’t ready to move to Uganda. I remember when I wasn’t ready to kiss the people I loved the most goodbye. I remember when I didn’t have enough money to sponsor just ten children, and I remember when I wasn’t old enough to be a mother, and I remember when I didn’t know how to parent. I remember when I couldn’t cook for fifteen people and when I didn’t want to share my house and my things and my life with sick people and addicts. I remember when I was afraid of the slum community that now holds hundreds of friends and when I was terrified that my daughter would never walk and when I was scared that we would never heal after tragic loss. And I remember that never, not once, was I really as ready as I wanted to be. And I remember that God kept all His promises, every last one, in His perfect time.
This new season looms and I don’t know what is next. But He doesn’t need me to be ready for this season because He is ready. He just needs me to be clinging to His feet.
Now. This is where He has called us.