Turning Points Magazine & Devotional

December 2023 Issue

Season of Joy

From the December 2022 Issue

A Match Made in Heaven: The Enduring Love of Christmas

A Match Made in Heaven: The Enduring Love of Christmas

For a couple of centuries, British political leadership has graduated from Eton and Oxbridge—an educational path populated by students from England’s most wealthy and elite families. Eton College is the equivalent of an American, boys-only high school, while Oxbridge refers to the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge—the two most prestigious universities in England. Anyone graduating from the Eton and Oxbridge schools is nearly assured of a life of wealth and prominence. 

One young man who graduated from both Eton College and the University of Cambridge was Charles Thomas Studd, one of eleven children born to Edward Studd who had made a fortune in India before returning to raise his family in England. A famous owner of race horses, Edward Studd was converted to Christ while listening to Dwight L. Moody preach in London. He was a changed man, selling his sporting amusements and devoting himself to Christian work. He hosted evangelistic meetings in his large country home where many found Christ.

Are we ready to obey—especially if there is great sacrifice involved?

But three who did not find Christ immediately were three of Edward Studd’s sons, Charles Thomas (nicknamed C. T.) among them. All three were students at Eton, and returning home over a holiday they found their father to be a different man. Their affluence, fame as cricket champions, and elite lifestyles kept them from considering Christ—at first.

Eventually, while still students at Eton, C. T. and his brothers accepted Christ—and C. T. went on to a lifetime of missionary service in China, Africa, and India. He wrote, “I know that cricket would not last, and honour would not last, and nothing in this world would last, but it was worthwhile living for the world to come.” He eventually translated those sentiments into poetry in a poem titled “Only One Life, ’Twill Soon Be Past,” the most famous lines of which read, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

While on the mission field in China, C. T.’s father died, leaving him an inheritance of £29,000, or about $4.5 million in today’s currency. He gave it away to Moody Bible Institute, George Müller’s orphanages, ministry to the poor in England, the Salvation Army in India, and other missions.

Following, even exceeding, the example of his father, C. T. Studd sacrificed his future, his wealth, his plans, and his reputation among the British elite to follow the call of God on his life. Prior to his death, C. T. expressed joy at having been able to follow the advice of Jesus to a wealthy young man: “Go, sell what you have and give to the poor . . . and come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21).

God’s call is different for us all. The question is, whatever that call, are we ready to obey—especially if there is great sacrifice involved? Every Christmas we have reason to consider two young people in Israel who obeyed God’s call on them as a couple: Mary and Joseph. God’s call on their lives was truly a match made in heaven. First, God matched them with each other. And second, He matched them with His only begotten Son as Jesus’ earthly parents. Their response (their choices) to God’s call (His matches) should inspire every Christian this Christmas season.

God Chose Mary and Joseph

He sees who we are and who we can become if we will say “Yes” to Him.

In the 2004 film The Passion of the Christ, you might recall the dramatic moment immediately following Jesus’ expiration on the cross: a teardrop falls from the sky and splashes in the dust at the foot of the cross. God the Father was weeping over the tortuous death of His Son.

That moment was dramatic license, of course; there is nothing in Scripture about the Father weeping over the death of Jesus. But it certainly illustrates the sacrifice that God made in giving His Son to die for the sins of the world.

To accomplish God’s plan, He needed a man and woman to be the human parents of Jesus—and He chose Mary and Joseph. We know little about them prior to them being chosen, but God’s choice of them tells us all we need to know. That is, who would God have chosen to be the earthly parents of His Son except a couple who would be faithful, loving, obedient, and courageous?

Mary and Joseph were a match made in heaven.

When God calls us for His purposes, He sees who we are and who we can become if we will say “Yes” to Him.

God Chose Mary

Since Mary would be carrying the baby Jesus until His birth, she needed to be willing to undertake not only the pregnancy but also the role of nurturing the Child from birth through adolescence.

This challenge became a choice for Mary: What plans had she formulated in her heart for her own life in terms of marriage and family? Typically for a young Jewish woman, her identity would have been bound up in finding a husband, keeping a home, and raising a family. To deviate from that plan would have been controversial to say the least. Granted, she would still become a wife, homemaker, and mother—but in a shockingly different way. Would she be willing to give up her future and walk into the future God would reveal to her?

We find Mary’s answer (her choice) when the angel, Gabriel, came to Mary to reveal God’s call (His match) on her life (Luke 1:26-38): “Then Mary said [to Gabriel], ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word’” (verse 38).

It is often said that a crossroads is no place to decide on your destination. The choice of destination needs to be certain before the moment of choosing. How long would Gabriel’s conversation with Mary have taken? You can read the entire dialogue in Luke 1 in a minute or less—hardly enough time to process the life-changing message she was given. So how was Mary able to say “Yes” in such a short moment? Because she was already living a life of submission to the will and ways of God.

When God calls us for His purpose, choosing to say “Yes” is made easier if we are already walking in step with Him.

Joseph Chose Mary

Joseph chose Mary twice. The first time was when he chose Mary to be his bride. As a young, Jewish man, his thoughts about the future were like Mary’s: find a spouse, establish a home, have children, raise a faithful family. After they were engaged but before they were married, Mary “was found with child of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18). Being a godly and righteous man, Joseph decided to break their engagement quietly so as to spare Mary shame in their community (Matthew 1:19).

But when an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, explaining why and how Mary was pregnant, he was faced with a choice. And he chose Mary for the second time—to take her as his wife and to raise Jesus, who would “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

When God calls us for His purpose, saying “Yes” is easier when we allow His ways to take precedence over our ways.

Mary and Joseph Chose God

So God chose Mary and Joseph as a couple and Mary as a mother—and Joseph chose Mary to be his wife. The question then was, would Mary and Joseph together choose God?

We already know the answer: Mary and Joseph were a match made in heaven. And together they chose to obey God’s call on their life. But it couldn’t have been easy for them—and it won’t always be easy for us. Like C. T. Studd and Mary and Joseph, there is a cost to choosing to follow God.

What is your match—the mission God has for you? Whether you are a young Christian seeking God’s purpose for your life or a mature believer already walking in your purpose, there is always a next step of obedience. It may be the first step or the hundredth, but there will always be a new challenge, a new choice, and perhaps a new cost.

Don’t wait for the crossroads—decide now that God’s call will always be your choice. 

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