Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "A Little Child The Saviour Came"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 2:12-13 – When it was time to leave, [the wise men] returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother," the angel said. "Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." (NLT)
One of the most helpless things that we ever do in life is to have the entire care of a newborn baby. The fact is that that is what the Christmas story is all about — not just any baby, but the Son of God.
I was just home from the hospital with my firstborn, nursing him on a bed by the window of our tiny basement apartment. Suddenly, there were flashes of gunfire only inches away from where the baby and I lay.
Without hesitation, I rolled the two of us right off the bed onto the floor, calling loudly for my husband.
"I heard the shots!" he said, rushing in. "I'll go see what's going on!"
"No! Don't go!" I said, but he was already out the door. I looked up at the window, which strangely had no bullet holes.
My husband came back looking puzzled. "When I told the landlord, he evicted us," he said slowly. "But he's been so happy about the baby coming."
We had to get out immediately, moving into a place that we couldn't afford, then finding yet another place through the minister of a local church, who followed up with a big box of groceries, like a guardian angel.
God's hand can sometimes be difficult to see. Matthew tells us that Mary and Joseph had to get out suddenly, as we did, when Jesus was still only a few days old. They couldn't go back home, the easy, old, familiar way that they had come. Neither could the wise men retrace their tracks.
Much later, we learned that the landlord's son played cards in a storage facility next door, with homeless men he would pick up downtown. As the baby and I lay on the bed, he shot and killed his latest companion. I had seen the flash of that gunfire and heard the shots. The landlord drove the man's body to the city dump and evicted us as possible witnesses. We would have always been in danger had we remained.
What seemed catastrophe was actually God's protection. Mary and Joseph didn't question why God had told them not to go back home. They just went. Neither did the wise men ask God why, when they went back another way. Their frequent presence on our Christmas cards reminds us that they, too, followed God's guidance, knowing that God knows what is ahead.
There is great peace in knowing that God has an intended place for each of us, which He continues to show us as we trust in Him.
Prayer: Dear Father God, we are aware of evil in the world, but we are grateful that Your power is greater than anything that darkness can throw at us. We ask for Your perfect plan to be unfolded in our lives. Thank You for showing us the way and for giving us Your peace as we journey. We are grateful for the story of Your protection and care for all those, like Jesus' family and the wise men, who follow where You lead, even though we may not understand. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.