It wasn’t one of my best moments in life, but as I sat recently in my living room grading a stack of mostly freshman, mostly bad, research papers, I looked up and asked the ceiling loudly, “Is this really the plan for my life??!!!” The question was directly to no one in particular, but I was hoping God would hear and answer “No!” back in a booming voice and put me on the path I have really always wanted.
I suppose my Plan A was to be born into a wonderfully wealthy family and never have to worry about money and spend my life writing whatever I wanted to, regardless of what I got paid. I was born into a wonderful, but not wealthy family, so Plan B was to marry into a wealthy one. Moving on to Plan C, it was to become an award-winning journalist, a career I soon found incompatible with raising seven children.
So on down through the alphabet . . . I’m not sure which Plan I’m on now, but working as an adjunct English instructor and squeezing in writing not-so-famous novels, columns, and frequent interesting feature stories for our local paper provides money for my share of the family finances and time to visit my grandchildren. There are many upsides to this Plan. Grading thousands of papers is a downside.
Way has led upon way, as Robert Frost said, and maybe I did choose this Plan at some pre-mortal point I don’t recall.
That day in the living room I almost believed I had as I recalled an awesome musical my husband and I had recently seen while visiting my son in Utah-the Liken the Scriptures The First Christmas at the Scera Theatre in Orem.
Watching it, I had been struck more so than usual by the desperation Joseph must have felt as he searched for a place for his young wife, surely in pain and afraid, to give birth to a baby they suspected was going to play a mighty part in the destiny of all mankind. What a tremendous responsibility on the shoulders of one good, humble man!
Joseph’s struggle played out a little longer and more dramatically on the stage than the one short verse in Luke 2:7 which states “. . . and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
What had been Joseph’s Plan A? I would imagine it was to get Mary back to Nazareth 65 miles away where she could give birth at home among family and in the relative comfort of their home. When it became apparent that wasn’t going to work, how many plans did he go through then? Was it just one inn he knocked on? How many innkeepers and homeowners rejected him? Did he look to the heavens and ask, “Is this really the plan for how the Son of God is to be born?”
Not assuming to speak the mind of God, I offer my opinion that God always had only Plan A for where His son would be born. Joseph just had to find it.
Down through the ages of contemplating the birth of the Savior, how many hearts have been humbled and knees been metaphorically bent at the thought of the Son of God being born in the lowly manger?How different our mantels and our lives might look if the nativity sets were gilded palaces with legions of decorated stallions instead of stables with lowing cattle and sheep.
Would the baby of the manger have drawn as many souls to Him had He been adorned with crowns and jewels instead of wrapped in swaddling clothes? What a beautiful setting-one of the most important components of an intriguing story-is the stable in Bethlehem!
Maybe I was always meant to write “comma splice” and “run-on sentence” thousands of times in my life, and in that way have the opportunity to often minister to the pain in the eyes of the students I see. (Not all inflicted by the teacher!) Maybe my desires to be a rich and famous writer got me to the point where I am really meant to be.
Or, maybe like Joseph, I’m just one knock away from what God’s Plan A for my life really is and I just need to keep knocking.
Susan Elzey is the author of “Miracle of the Christmas Star,” which can be purchased on Amazon.com or at www.miracleofthechristmasstar.com. (Maybe it’s not too late to make her a rich and famous writer!)