Have you ever had an experience where you were sent someplace that you didn’t want to go? I remember a time camping with my family in Canada when my mother sent my older sister and me to the little camp store. Our task was to purchase bread, which would seem like a little thing. However, the people there spoke French. We were coached on what to say, how to say it, and how to pay. I was totally discombobulated and very afraid of doing it wrong. Of course mother knew that the lady in the store also spoke perfect English, but she was trying to send us into a foreign experience to try something new and communicate in someone else’s language. The mission was accomplished, in spite of our resistance and fear.
Like all of you, I have been sent into unwanted places. I’ve been sent into the prisons to minister to broken people. I’ve been sent to a hospital bedside to pray as someone died. I’ve been sent to officiate weddings that I knew wouldn’t last. I’ve been sent to a place far away from the home I loved with no immediate prospect of finding a church to serve, or people to love. That is how I ended up on the Outer Banks…God surely did a reversal on that one!
Did you ever stop to think about how many people in the nativity story were sent somewhere they didn’t want to go?
Luke 2 (Common English Bible)
2 In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. 2 This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria.3 Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. 4 Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea.
Joseph was sent by the Roman ruler to register his name so that taxes could be taken from him. He had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the privilege. You KNOW he didn’t want to go there.
5 He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant.
“Great-with-child” Mary was sent along. We could not possibly imagine the discomfort and fear that such a journey meant to a young, pregnant woman. Dusty roads and sitting astride the back of a donkey while being exposed to the weather were just part of being sent.
6 While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.
The innkeeper was sent to care for this couple while his place was at full capacity. He couldn’t bear to send them away, but surely he felt bad about sending them to the animal stable.
The innkeeper went where he was sent to provide hospitality to strangers. Joseph went to where he was sent out of duty and obligation. But Mary went where she was sent out of love. And because they all went where God sent them, the entire world was saved.
Where is God sending you? Will you go? Will you go willingly, or reluctantly? Will duty and obligation be enough to go on, or will you go where God sends you out of love?
Wherever you go, wherever God sends you, you are never alone. Thanks be to God.