The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. ~ Proverbs 16:9.

In “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” Barbara Robinson introduces us to six of the biggest troublemakers that ever crashed a Christmas  Pageant; the Herdmans. Nothing went quite as planned when they showed up to participate in the annual Christmas Pageant at the local Church. When Gladys, Claude, Imogene, Leroy, Ollie and Ralph Herdman came to Church to be part of this year’s pageant, Beth Bradley remembers the last time they came…”Before the service was over, they cleaned out the collection plates, scribbled on the bibles, and stuck gum  all over the pews.”

The Herdmans lied, smoked cigars and beat up little kids. They threw a monkey wrench into the best laid of plans, especially those of Grace Bradley, that year’s pageant director. We all have “Herdmans” in our lives. They are people or situations that keep us from accomplishing our  plans. We all have plans that we’d love to see come off without a hitch at Christmas. The perfect dinner, a lovely, quiet family time where Dad reads scripture and the children are perfectly behaved, family all together for days on end getting along and being loving and kind, just the right gifts for everyone, plenty of money, plenty of days off work, everyone well, everyone home….

But if we’re all very honest, we will admit that we have had very few Christmases where everything went as planned. There’s always a certain amount of flying by the seat of our pants and making do. That’s not so bad but then there’s usually the really big mess ups too. We’ve all had  them. Oh yes.

What happened with the Herdman’s? Well, Grace Bradley’s pageant didn’t go quite as planned. But God loved the Herdmans through her. While troublemaker Imogene Herdman was playing the part of the Virgin Mary, a light dawned in her heart. And as she recited her lines through tears, the whole Church discovered the true meaning of Christmas. That seems to be the way God works. He works through the big mess-ups  and the making-do …. if we let Him.

Gracious Redeemer of all our messes, hold my life in Your hands and show me how You  are working when things don’t go as I’ve planned. Help me to plan with eternity in mind. Help me not to take my plans too seriously, and to put love above those plans this Christmas. Amen.