While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born.
Sometimes things happen when we are least expecting them. Occasionally, unexpected events can really throw a spanner in the works and play havoc with the plans that we have made. Often illness can cause major problems. We make careful plans, and then find ourselves unable to complete all we need to do because we are unwell. Sometimes, even greater changes can cause all sorts of confusion and disruption to our plans. Some years ago, I worked for Marks and Spencer. I had just about worked out my career path when I was made redundant. All the plans that I had for my career where thrown out of the window.
Joseph and Mary must have found themselves in a similar situation. They had plans to get married, live together in Nazareth, and no doubt at some point start a family. Then an angel appeared to Mary, and to Joseph in a dream, and told them that Mary was to give birth to a son. Suddenly, all of their plans were shattered. Then, as if that was not bad enough, just as Mary was reaching her full term, they had to up sticks and head to Bethlehem for a census. Travelling miles along dusty roads to a far away town was not ideal for someone in Mary’s position!
Of course, although it might not have seemed like it, God was very much in control of the situation that Mary and Joseph found themselves in. Not only had he ordained the precise moment when his son was to be conceived, he also knew that Mary and Joseph would have to head to Bethlehem. He knew that Jesus would be born in a stable since there was no room at the inn. This is clear from the Old Testament prophecies. God was in control. He ensured that his son was born in the most humble of surroundings to ensure that he understood the full human experience.
Similarly, God was in control when I was made redundant. It might seem like our lives are just one long sequence of coincidences, and we might have to alter our hopes, expectations and plans, but ultimately, God is in control, He knows what is best for us, and he knows what is best for his kingdom, and he will ensure that his plans, not ours, are brought to fruition.