I’ve been reading a lot of things about Joseph of Nazareth this year. I’ve even published two blog post that have included a couple of the devotions I read during my quiet time. In one of them Joseph’s Prayer I included an excerpt from Max Lucado’s book On This Holy Night Using imaginative contemplation Max asks Joseph some questions and then attempts to read Joseph’s mind to learn of his thoughts on the night of Jesus’ birth. In the other, Joseph’s Heartbreak I included an excerpt from Bo Stern’s book When Holidays Hurt, in which Bo imagines how Joseph may have felt when he learned that the love of his life, his fiance was pregnant by someone other than him. I even read and posted on social media, The Faith of Joseph of Nazareth, a blog post that I published three years ago
A couple of days ago I read another devotion that was an excerpt for another of Max Lucado’s books In the Manger, in which Max again wondered if Joseph prayed for more information than that the angel gave him, which didn’t really give him much detail.
Matthew 1:18-25 (NKJV)18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins."22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.
Searching the Night for a Light
by Max Lucado, from In the Manger
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” -- Matthew 1:22-23
On the night when Jesus was born, I wonder if Joseph ever prayed, “Father, this all seems so… bizarre. The angel you sent? Any chance you could send another? If not an angel, maybe a person? Some company would be nice. Even a shepherd would do.”
Perhaps he did. Perhaps he didn’t. But you probably have.
You’ve stood where Joseph stood. Caught between what God says and what makes sense. You’ve done what He told you to do only to wonder if it was Him speaking in the first place. You’ve stared into a sky blackened with doubt. And you’ve asked what Joseph asked.
You’ve asked if you’re still on the right road. You’ve asked if you were supposed to turn left when you turned right. And you’ve asked if there is a plan behind this scheme.
“Things haven’t turned out as you thought they would.”
Each of us knows what it’s like to search the night for a light. Not outside a stable, but perhaps outside an emergency room or on the manicured grass of a cemetery. We’ve asked our questions. We’ve questioned God’s plan. And we’ve wondered why God does what He does.
The Bethlehem sky was not the first to hear the pleadings of a confused pilgrim.
If you are asking what Joseph asked, let me urge you to do what Joseph did. Obey. That’s what he did. He obeyed when the angel called, when Mary explained, and when God sent.
He was obedient when the sky was bright… and when it was dark.
He didn’t let his confusion disrupt his obedience. He didn’t know everything. But he did what he knew. He shut down his business, packed up his family, and went to another country. Why? Because that’s what God said to do.
What about you? Just like Joseph, you can’t see the whole picture. Just like Joseph, your task is to see that Jesus is brought into your part of the world. And just like Joseph, you have a choice: to obey or disobey. Because Joseph obeyed, God used him to change the world.
Can He do the same with you?
“God still looks for Josephs today. Men and women who believe that God is not through with this world. Common people who serve an uncommon God.”
Will you be that kind of person? Will you serve… even when you don’t understand?
No, the Bethlehem sky was not the last to hear the pleadings of an honest heart. And perhaps God didn’t answer every question for Joseph. But He answered the most important one. “Are you still with me, God?” And through the first cries of the God-child the answer came.
“Yes, Joseph. I’m with you.”
Through the small face of the stable-born Baby, He says yes.
Yes, your sins are forgiven. Yes, your name is written in Heaven. Yes, death has been defeated. And yes, God has entered your world.
Immanuel. God is with us.
~ He Still Moves Stones
Excerpted with permission from In the Manger by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.