He was born at 7:49 p. m., and the room was crowded. Maybe it was because of the agonizing wait and a narrowly-avoided C-section, or because we were young and scared, or because my labor was long—just shy of two full days and nights. In any case, the early shift of nurses stayed while the late shift took over, all of them crammed into that hospital room while their own families waited at home. Perhaps they stayed because it's worth waiting to experience new life.
And so he finally came, our firstborn son, born from love and pain, with a labor so hard and uncertain that somewhere in the night the purpose of it all was swallowed up. But then—the first cry. And with it, we were surprised—surprised by joy.
Of all the ways the Father could choose to bring us new life, he chose the unexpected method of a baby—a Savior King born to an ordinary girl, brought forth with all the waiting and uncertainty and pain that every labor brings. God's methods are mysterious, but not without purpose. In the glitz and hoopla of the Christmas season, our souls need the reminder of Advent to embrace the full surprise delivered in the birth of Jesus. Let us turn to the importance of Advent as a way for our hearts to prepare for the surprise, the wonder, and the joy of Jesus' birth.
Surprised by uncertainty
Mary asked the angel, "But how can this happen? I am a virgin." —Luke 1:34
The familiarity of the Christmas story tempts us to skip over the details, to forget that the story of Christ's birth is a historical reality, that at one point in one time, a woman blinked her eyes out of sleep to see an angel standing before her, and she heard words that thrust her into the unknown. With a few short sentences, Mary's life went from predictable to precarious, from understandable to uncertain. In this moment of history, God defied every law of creation to make the impossible possible, to declare his power over all he has made.1