Great Expectations

If you were pregnant with the King’s child, what provisions might you expect the King to supply for His only Son’s birth?

When Larry and I began our family, we were living in Orange County, California, the most expensive housing market in the US at the time. It was during the years of sky high inflation and we were paying 18% interest on our home mortgage. We were house poor! I remember the temptation to feel sorry for myself because I couldn’t afford to buy my new baby the cute things I adored.

The Christmas story jarred me from my self pity. Mary didn’t even have a clean room in which to deliver her baby. She wrapped her baby in strips of cloth. The king wanted to kill her baby. Suddenly my situation didn’t look so bad. I had a sewing machine and covered secondhand bumper pads with fresh gingham, painted a used crib — both turned out great. I had to climb one flight of steps while in labor, but she had to ride a donkey for miles. If such conditions were adequate for the Son of the Most High, who was I to complain? Mary’s story challenged my attitude and saved me from my expectations.

This year many have been hit hard by the economy. Others are experiencing their first Christmas without a loved one. Christmas brings with it certain assumptions and ghosts of past Christmases that can haunt and disturb our peace and joy.

If I had been Mary, I would have expected God to provide a private room with clean linens and a midwife to attend to the birth of His Son. Mary could have focused on such hardships as giving birth in a cold animal stable without any family to comfort or celebrate with her. She didn’t even have a bed.

Isaiah 55:9 says that God’s ways are higher than our ways. We know that higher is better. Think higher grades, higher standards, or higher values. The stable provided Mary and Joseph privacy and quiet that the packed inn would not have had. It also offered a place for the shepherds to visit and worship the incarnate Christ on His birth day. Mary’s family may have doubted her story, as Joseph had, and been a distraction, not a comfort. So God sent shepherds to share her joy and tell her that the angels celebrated with her.

Sometimes we fail to recognize and appreciate God’s perfect provisions for our lives when they don’t meet our expectations. Expectations can inflict unnecessary pain, and affect our relationships. What expectations are you putting on yourself and others this Christmas? How would surrendering those expectations enhance your Christmas and your worship?

This Christmas remember the first Christmas and how even though God’s provision was unexpected, His provision was perfect for Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the shepherds and us. Christ is the gift of Christmas and when we gratefully remember Him, the real wonder and awe of Christmas will be ours.

Merry Christmas from Larry and me,


Prayer requests: For grace to rest in God’s faithfulness; sustained energy; for us and our clients to walk in vibrant faith; adequate financial provision.

P.S. Thank you for your partnership in ministering to hurting individuals and families!

This was adapted from Debbie’s new book, Your Invitation to a Better Life.
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  1. Carol Hoal

    Just an hour ago, I poured out my heart to my husband, Alan, asking him to help me. I have always had high expectations of others and especially myself. Lately, I have been struggling with how to lower the bar and know when and how to do what God’s requires of me.

    How can accept a lower standard for “me”? I might practice for a performance four hours, whereas, someone else might practice one. Make sense?

    Carol Hoal

    • debwilson

      Carol, I certainly can understand. I have found Bill and Anabelle Gillham’s book Lifetime Guarantee (which you can find on our resource page) to be very helpful in dealing with the pressure we put on ourselves and others. Bill points out that when our standards are higher than Jesus’, we can be sure that our “flesh” is behind such pressure.

      What has helped me is to step back and examine the fruit of this expectation. Is it bringing peace and love to me and others? If not, it is not helpful, no matter how right it seems to me. I must surrender it to Jesus with my desires, and trust Him to meet the deeper needs. Some temperaments struggle more with this than others.

      Thanks for sharing. You can be sure many others are there with you.


  2. Lon and Trish Miller

    Debbie, thank you for such a thoughtful and insightful look at the Christmas story. When we have little causes us to more fully recognize the greatest blessing of all — the gift of God’s love. Merry Christmas!

  3. Earle Finley


    Thanks for framing Mary’s humility and thankful heart so beautifully just a few days before we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

    Merry Christmas,

    Earle and Sara Finley

  4. Matt

    Thanks for reminding us of this perspective. It definitely is helpful to see things from another perspective when it’s so tempting to focus on me, me, me all the time.

    Merry Christmas!

  5. Don Woeltjen

    Being human and a pastor I am aware of the continuing needs of people; but He knows our needs. God’s Word is full of hope and love. However, it usually requires someone to reveal His Word to the lost, hurting, and frustrated. You have contributed a wonderful effort to “Bring Joy,” this Christmas, to the world in which you serve. And likewise, dear cousin, a very Merry Christmas to you and Larry.

  6. Sandy Phillips Conklyn

    Dear Debbie,
    Thank you so much for putting Christmas in such a beautiful perspective. Here I am cooking and baking frantically and resenting Dan when he goes off to the gym while I need help getting the house ready! The family would be happy with pizza, and my younger granddaughter already said that her favorite cookies were the kind that come in a roll at the grocery store! Nobody will care about a little dust. All we need is love and the ability to give it back.

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