Tuesday, December 19, 2006


The Plan of Joseph

“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, ‘Behold a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel’, which being interpreted is, God with us.” ~Matthew quoting Isaiah 7:14 in chapter 1:22,23

“Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that wich is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus (the Lord saves---my insert) for He shall save His people from their sins.” ~An angel of the Lord to Joseph in a dream (Matt. 1:20,21)

Joseph’s plans were majorly interrupted. Humbly, this gracious man, “being raised from his sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son, and he called His name Jesus.” (vv 24,25)

I had some plans for my blog this fall, Clean out some of the excess writing and go forth, teaching and preaching! Not so fast…Joseph, in order to trust and believe that he was going to be Daddy to Messiah, the Anointed One, he had to drop his plans to break engagement, re-think it, and surrender to God’s perfect and pleasing will. Mrs. Schaeffer says Joseph’s belief was the hardest to swallow because of his very personal involvement. God was “the other man”! Raw emotion, romantic love—if you’ve experienced it, you know what Joseph was dealing with. Or maybe it was an arranged marriage, as in the movie, The Nativity Story. Still, men surely understand the turmoil of feelings involved here. Joseph had been committed to Mary for a lifetime of devotion and sharing. What was he to do with all this? Thankfully, his manly pride did not turn his love or sense of honor into sheer mistrust and hate!

From the time of disruption in my life and God’s redirection of late, I have also been dealing in raw emotions. Those closest to us, our personal lives, can make us or break us. But in the pain, God has remained faithful to show me what to do, just as the Lord made it clear to Joseph—“Go ahead and marry your betrothed.” And while Joseph was told to wait awhile for God’s purpose to be carried through, God would use him mightily to raise His Son! Don’t think for a minute Joseph had it easy! Jesus was sinless and obedient, a parent’s dream, right? But what kind of pressure is that? Joseph had to carefully weigh every direction, every instruction, “What can I teach to my boy? I dare not misguide him, because Jesus is under God’s direction to listen, honor his parents and obey.” Joseph KNEW the commandment. Personally, surrendering to God in faith has meant great sacrifice. Obedience can be very uncomfortable and sometimes means painful loss, even persecution. It is precious how God reached into Joseph’s heart and pulled him up, gave him courage…spoke to him.

God has clearly conveyed the forgotten practice of daily repentance to me as He has me stepping out into the community with my sisters in Christ, working in an outreach ministry to the lost and hurting. God’s revelation of Himself as Healer and Encourager in my close relationships is emerging. More specifically, at a place and time of despair recently, I found the broadcast of a ballet—oddly since neither ballet nor PBS are an attraction for me! This particular dance was called “Rubies”—my favorite! I was pulled like a bungee at its limit, straight back to my childhood dreams of a lovely ballerina, a sparkling red dress and shoes; a picture of beauty and grace perfected in a little girl’s fantasies. God was comforting me; NO DOUBT in my mind. He knows us more deeply than we know ourselves.

To clarify my view, I do not agree with the pc faith of total tolerance and forgiveness. It has left out the crucial need for repentance and humble, yet firm, confrontation. Therapeutic, feeling-good Christianity is steeped in relativistic confusion but, God will not be mocked. That does not mean God does not want us to feel good! Jesus is the Great Physician, Comforter, and Lover of our souls. Josh McDowell, The Relational Word and Cloud and Townsend’s How People Grow stress close, deep relationship, which requires trust. The risk of openness and honesty makes us vulnerable to betrayal so, of course, tread carefully. The Savior to Whom Joseph bowed and gave way, can and will spare us from separateness, self-reliance and the pain of loneliness.
I hope to continue this Christmas series. May the Lord grant us courage and wisdom as we re-define who we are, who we will be to each other within the Christian community, and most urgently, who we will be to those who are watching. Let Joseph’s willingness be our model…even when it hurts.

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