Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Unplanned Pregnancy

Over Christmas I was thinking about the phrase "Unplanned Pregnancy". After all the Christmas story is the story of an unplanned pregnancy. We don't use the adjective "unplanned" to describe much else besides pregnancies. We don't talk about unplanned job changes or unplanned friendships. Somehow we expect pregnancies to be planned when most of life is not planned. That is to say it is not planned by us. God has a plan. Mary's pregnancy was planned by God. Was it ever. It was mentioned many time in the Old Testament. The genealogies in Matthew and Luke make clear that God had been preparing for thousands of years. But Mary had no such plans. Her response to the angel indicates that her plan was to live a life of consecrated virginity. She didn't expect to be a mother.

Really the Christianity is about accepting God's plans for your life. That is what Mary did and that is what we are called to do. Even in the areas of our life that we really would like to plan. Pregnancy is one big one. Yet God chose to tie pregnancy to sex. He makes something we want to plan flow from something we struggle to control. Then He introduces a ton of randomness into the process. A certain percentage of children have Downs Syndrome. Why does God throw that in? Our family is living the answer to that. Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.

There was a joke in evangelical circles, "if you want to make God laugh ... tell him your plans!" The truth is even when we try and prayerfully make plans God would like we can't do it. We have this idea that plans involve doing something or accomplishing something. But often God's plan is just the situation we find ourselves in right now. Love the one you are with. No in the sexual sense that saying implied. But in the spiritual sense. If we are in pain we tend to run from it. But often God's plan is for us to suffer it well. Like a pregnancy the pain can lead to new life if we embrace it for long enough. But we never make plans like that. It seems like our plans focus on the mountain tops and God's plan focuses on the valley of the shadow of death.

We say we want to be saints. But when we plan our lives how much is about saint-making and how much is about avoiding pain and maximizing pleasure? Sure the pleasure can be Christian. We might want to see people give their lives to Jesus. That might be the pleasure we want rather than the more carnal pleasures. But it is still about our fun. It is not about embracing our cross.

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