Expect the Unexpected | An Advent Devotional

Thomas Blevins

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
– Luke 2:1-5

Over the river and through the woods, unbearable traffic, children on the verge of mutiny, to Grandmother’s house we go! It’s downright amazing what we are willing to do to care for our friends and family, but getting out the door some days can be a daunting task. Whether it’s the burden of coordinating schedules with friends or wrestling your kids into the backseat of your car, life can make you want to pull your hair out or run away like Usain Bolt on Red Bull!

I wonder if Joseph felt this way?

Toting his pregnant teenage fiancé, Joseph journeyed approximately 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Everyone in the Roman world was forced to register their family in their hometown. I’m sure Joseph wasn’t thrilled about having to do such an arduous task. He was already wrestling with preparing for a child that wasn’t his. He was engaged, but what would people think about him when he went home? Would anyone really believe that his child was conceived of the Holy Spirit? Did they think he had slept with Mary before they wed? Perhaps some people would think Mary was covering up something with a Roman soldier? The last thing he needed was another burden added to his day. I don’t know about you, but that’s enough pressure and inconvenience to make any reasonable person consider running away.

Can you imagine what may have happened if Joseph decided to ditch Mary? Or if he viewed the tedious travel worthless of his time and chose not to go to Bethlehem? He would have missed being witness to and part of all that encompasses the nativity story, all because he had a really bad day.

Joseph may have not fully understood God’s plan, but he pursued it anyway. Like Joseph, perhaps you aren’t expecting the richness of what is to come. Today may seem like an impossible day full of continuous obstacles, scandals, and crying babies. Maybe you feel like you should run away and hide. You may have expected things to be different, and they are! Beautifully different!

Joseph was expecting a child; he received Emmanuel. A nation was expecting a Barbaric Savior Warrior; God sent a tiny little baby. Don’t miss a minute of the unexpected. Embrace the hot mess. For what’s to come far exceeds our expectation. Don’t give up because you are expecting something else. God is with us in all things, shaping a story far greater than our circumstances suggest.

Consider these questions:

When your expectations don’t go the way you planned, how do you respond?

How might your current circumstances allow you to trust God with the unexpected?

Father, give me the patience it takes to see you in all things. Help me to live graciously through the most trying of circumstances and the greatest of disappointments. Teach me to look beyond the inconveniences of the moment so that I don’t miss you along the way. Remind me of your presence and move me to seek you when my expectations are not met. AMEN.