26In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”29Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” 34Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” 35The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37For the word of God will never fail.Luke 1:26-35
Whenever I read the account of Jesus’ birth and events surrounding it, I wonder. I wonder what it would have been like to be there, to be Mary or Joseph; or their parents. From this moment in the lives of these people, their world changed. In a moment, it was turned upside down and sideways. I wonder why the element of chaos is left out of our modern depictions of Jesus’ coming to earth.
For me, I believe that God’s word never fails. It didn’t fail Mary and Joseph and it won’t fail me. I will never be alone, he won’t leave me or forsake me, his presence will sustain and hold me, there will always be grace for the places he takes me.
For the word of God will never fail.
A few years ago, God took me away from my home to a place by the ocean for an extended period of time. It wasn’t a bad place to go, many actually plan to do it every year. But I never wanted to go there. I felt needed here. I felt safe here. I wanted to stay here. My place was here. In my wrestling with the decision, I read these words:
…if I dwell by the farthest oceans, 10even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.Psalm 139:9-10
The months away were not easy, but the word of the Lord did not fail me. His hand provided guidance, his strength supported me. Through it all, he did deep heart work.
The word of the Lord may turn your world upside down. But there are two things we can know for sure: 1) you don’t need to be afraid and 2) his presence will not fail you.