by Linda Veath Cox

Christmas shopping was going well. I was checking off item after item from my perfect-gift-for-everybody list! And then I realized that one of those oh-so-perfect gifts was not going to work.

A shopping list detour. Nooooooo!

I started to grumble. Well, I did more than just start to grumble. And then God placed a Nativity scene within my sight at that very moment. He used that manger scene to nudge me into thinking about the detours encountered that first Christmas.

Mary and Joseph were betrothed and looking ahead to life together, and then angels appeared. Gabriel told Mary she would have a baby by the Holy Spirit of God. And an angel—tradition tells us this also was Gabriel—told Joseph the baby Mary was carrying wasn’t his. Detour!

When Caesar Augustus decreed that everybody must return to his town of birth to be taxed, nine-months-pregnant Mary climbed aboard a donkey for a long, rough, dusty ride to Bethlehem. Detour!

As they approached Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph may have been dreaming of a room at the local inn. Only they found it full—except for a “room” in the “animal inn.” So Mary, rather than having her baby in the shelter of her own home with her local midwives, had her baby in a stable with her husband and the animals in attendance. Detour!

And what about the shepherds watching their flocks by night? A quiet night with a sky full of stars. That is, until the angel choir blared out the Good News of Christ’s birth. And the shepherds quickly found themselves on their way to see the Baby Jesus. Detour!

Yet, as we now know, what appeared to be detours in the Christmas story—what appear to be detours in our lives—are simply part of God’s perfect plan. And in that perfect plan, God never wastes a “detour.”

So this year when our perfectly planned Christmas activities are interrupted, instead of grumbling, may we accept those detours as opportunities from God to share the Good News of His birth!

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” ~ Luke 1:38 NIV