A Bigger Story...
Updated: Dec 24, 2019
Afraid, uncertain, hurt and angry? What does one think - let alone do? Joseph faced an unanticipated crisis. Mary, his betrothed, was pregnant, and he was not the father. A reasonable interpretation of the circumstances was unsavory and disgraceful: Mary had been unfaithful or harmed.
But the angel came; the angel spoke of a different reality. The angel spoke of a story that included Joseph and Mary, yet, was so much greater. What about those times we need God to interpret circumstances for us, to narrate the story?
Scripture reminds us again and again…things are often not as they appear. Reality is bigger and broader then we might think, and the stakes are higher. Abraham didn’t know that his obedience as he offered his son, Isaac, on an altar would foreshadow God giving His Son for our sake on a cross thousands of years later or that it would symbolize every good gift we entrust back to the Giver. Esther didn’t know that as a young woman trapped in human trafficking she would have a platform upon which she could plead for the protection of her people. As Job's suffering played out on center stage, he didn't know that a spiritual battle was unfolding behind the scene. Mary and Martha did not know that Jesus' delay when they sent word that Lazarus was sick was intended for a resurrection.
God launched a rescue mission in the God-life that was conceived in Mary. The angel informed Joseph that he was invited to participate. He was instructed to take Mary as his wife and to name the baby boy, Jesus.
The risks were high. It would cost Joseph to align with Jehovah, the God of Israel. Could he relinquish his reputation, his safety, his comfort, and any semblance of control that he might have thought he had to participate in the Divine initiative? Would he? A human formula would conclude that Mary’s pregnancy would bring suffering and betrayal to Joseph. A divine perspective defined a different reality: Joseph was given a critical role in God’s story fraught with significance, trust, glory… and hardship. Joseph stepped up… he filled his role.
How does your story and my story intersect with God’s story, the Divine unfolding of God’s intention to love humanity? I wonder. Are there hard things, wonderful things, confusing things that I desperately need God to interpret for me? That difficult relationship, that fearful diagnosis, that unexplainable rejection, that risky open door? How will I trust God’s plan, listen intently for God’s guidance, and follow His lead in the next steps?
“…An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because
He will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:20b-23