He had intended to have a good time. After all, jet skiing was meant to be fun, and the Niagara Gorge, with its tantalizing rapids, was the perfect place for it. This Canadian had no idea that this would be the beginning of a nightmare.
He had no sooner arrived in the rapids when his motor sputtered to a halt. Before he realized what was happening, his jet ski slipped underneath the churning waters and he found himself swimming for his life.
As he looked around him, he had a choice to make: Swim for the closest bank, or for the farthest. As the Canadian side of the river was not only a bit further away, but also a but rougher, he opted to swim for the U.S. side of the Niagara River. It wasn’t long before water filled his mouth and nose, and soon he was gasping for air. Just in time he miraculously hauled himself onto U.S. soil. He had made it! He was alive! He made the right choice!
He was quickly rushed to the hospital where he was taken care of. But while recuperating, he had some unexpected visitors: Immigration officials! And instead of bringing flowers, they brought handcuffs. He was arrested for illegally entering the country.
Isn’t it true that there are days when nothing seems to go right? I can imagine that this guy must have muttered: “I should have braved the rapids and chosen the Canadian riverbank!” I can’t say I blame him! After all, Canada and the U.S. share a peaceful border!
When we think of the Christmas story, we are often tempted to think of a peaceful, quiet event. But was it, really?
Let’s look more closely at the events that led up to the Christmas story: “His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” (Matt 1:18-19 NIV)
That’s a pretty rocky place to start, don’t you think? Being pregnant in those days while not being officially married was a crime that resulted in stoning! It might even make what the poor Canadian suffered look like child’s play, and if I were Mary, I might be tempted to throw in the towel!
But Mary made the right choice. She did the Godly thing: She obeyed God.
But things only got worse. Her fiancé not only refused to believe her, but he rejected her! How discouraging for Mary! Even the one she was engaged to marry didn’t have faith in her! In her shoes, I might have been tempted to wonder if I had made the right choice after all!
Isn’t it strange that the Christmas story would have such a rocky beginning? After all, wasn’t this story meant to bring peace to the world?
How often we underestimate the power and grace of God! God is a specialist in repairing broken relationships. He is an expert in setting things straight. He did what was humanly impossible:
“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.'” (Matt 1:20-21 NIV)
Joseph realized he was wrong all along. I can just imagine him returning to Mary and acknowledging his mistake, admitting that he had doubted her and apologizing.
“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” (Matt 1:24-25 NIV)
This Christmas may we remember that God is much greater than our circumstances. Doubting Him will only bring us grief. He will come through for us! No matter what our circumstances may be, He is with us, and He will lead us to a victorious conclusion, one that is far better than what we could have ever imagined. He cares for us! This is why Jesus was sent on our planet. God cares especially for you!
“Am I on the right shore?”
It all depends on who you put your trust in!
(To access the entire “Christmas Under Fire” devotional series, please click here.)