And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. ~Luke 2:6-7
That word takes on greater meaning when we look at these two small verses. Here we are allowed to peek in on such an intimate moment: Young Mary, newly wed to her husband and now giving birth far from home. This priceless moment when she meets her baby boy, holds him in her arms for the first time, swaddles him snugly and lays him down to watch her perfect baby’s first sleep… in a manger??
Surely this manger, this feeding trough in an animal shelter wasn’t Mary’s plan! Like all parents, Mary likely dreamed of laying her baby in a warm bed, in their own home, among their own community. At the very least, we know she and Joseph had hoped for better shelter in the inn. But those plans didn’t work out.
We will all face these “Manger Moments” in life - perhaps even this Christmas - when our best laid hopes and plans unravel and we find ourselves in the middle of a mess of hardship, confusion, disappointment or stress saying, “Surely, this wasn’t the plan!”
How can peace be found when our plans fall apart?
The manger reminds us of two things:
First, God’s PEACE does not rely on our plans. The truth is, God already had a plan in the works. Thousands of years before the manger, Isaiah prophesied of the Peace God would lay down in this very moment…
“For unto us a child is born… and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The
mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
This manger was the first resting place of the Prince of Peace himself! God literally filled this disappointing manger with Peace. Such peace that it changed our world. Forever.
This lowly manger was also the very sign the angel gave the shepherds to find and worship their Savior.
“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in
a manger. (Luke 2:11-12)
Jesus was lying in exactly the place God planned: in a feeding trough.
Second, God’s PEACE is His plan FOR us. And it shines all the brighter in the middle of our lowly “Manger Moments”. Peace comes when we invite Jesus right into the middle of our mess. Peace comes when we lift our weary hands in prayer, praise and thanksgiving for all He has done and will do. Peace comes in knowing that God sees you, hears you, and that He does have a plan.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
What are your “Manger Moments” this Christmas?
We pray simply that you would fill us with your peace. We pray that we find you in the most unlikely places, because we are pursuing you and seeking you wholeheartedly. Be nearer to us than ever this season.