Stocking stuffers are great! My kids love getting those little extra gifts at Christmas. As they have grown older, these are usually items they are surprised to receive since they pick out most everything else. Each of our family members has a large stocking with their name or first initial on it. One day when I arrived home from work I noticed a small stocking hanging with the other ones. This would have been a huge surprise had it been a birth announcement. However, as I walked closer to them, I noticed it said, “Meow”. Meow? Did we now have a stocking for the cat? Yes! We did have a stocking for the cat! My first reaction was disbelief and bewilderment. It’s no secret the cat does not like me. Isn’t she on the naughty list? What would we put in the stocking…a mouse? Not only do stockings contain surprise gifts, this stocking is a surprise in itself!
Don’t tell anyone, but I really am a softie when it comes to the cat…even though she doesn’t return the feelings. While stockings contain surprises and a stocking for a cat surprised me, I’m sure finding out you’re giving birth to God’s Son trumps them both. When Gabriel told Mary, “Fear not, you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30), it probably did not feel like favor at first. Shock, disbelief, confusion, a loss for words…those would have been my initial emotions and reactions. Do you know why angels always have to tell people “fear not” in the Bible? Because they are talking angels! While Mary may have started out afraid, she ended up in complete submission to God. She said to the Lord, “I am the Lord’s servant. Be it unto me according to Your word” (Luke 1:38).
What emotions and reactions have you experienced with God’s word? Maybe you’ve faced bewilderment, shock, disbelief, or loss for words? Do you trust God at His word? There have been times I’ve been reading Scripture and the Holy Spirit prompted me to give time, ability, money, and other things away I had not planned. I remember once after reading how the Lord came to serve and not be served (Mark 10:45) I had an overwhelming nudge from the Holy Spirit to go help a family move across town. That is after I had ignored their plea for assistance earlier on social media earlier that day. One time I had just bought a lawn mower and I felt the Lord say, “Give it to that elderly couple in church that you heard needed one.” In those moments, I’ve found it is always better and know God always blesses when our attitudes and responses are like that of Mary…humble, willing, and obedient.
Question: Has the Lord “surprised” you with something He wants you to do? Do you need to repent and revisit His initial request?
Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.
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