Parson to Person: Not what I thought it would be
Have you ever had a dream so real you were sure you actually lived it?
It’s what happened to Joseph more than once. He was engaged, preparing for marriage, when he got the worst news possible…his fiancé was pregnant and he wasn’t the father. That’s not what I thought my life would be like! Stunned, emotionally overwhelmed and deeply hurt, he tries to reason how he might deal with Mary. He decides to privately dismiss her, saving her public embarrassment and likely stoning.
And then the dream…Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and shall call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.”
Wow! How do I deal with that? Now instead of regret, I feel honor. Instead of fear, I experience great anticipation, even privilege. How exciting! I imagine this special baby being born and all my family is there.
It’s supernatural and how do you prepare for this? Mom and Dad, grandparents, the local priest and Rabbi should all be present. How do we decorate a nursery? What first infant clothes should be worn? Should there be music? A choir?
Then the government throws a wrench in the whole thing. We have to travel to Bethlehem for a census. Really? Maybe this isn’t so supernatural. A nine month pregnant woman traveling by mule? This is not what I thought it would be.
We make the plans, get a donkey, some food supplies and say our goodbyes. The journey is not easy. Mary is ready to burst. I’m nervous. We need to find an inn. Nothing. No rooms available. Too many in town for the census. How can this be you God? Don’t You know how close Mary is? Do You really want Your Son born in a barn? This is not what I thought it would be.
We scramble, and find a stable in a cave. Just perfect. Clean, sanitary and fresh aroma…NOT! Mary is in labor. She’s coming and needs my help. It’s not easy. No family. No one to laugh and cry with us. No slaps on the back. Just animals and me and Mary. Then, out of no where, come shepherds. They say they are looking for us. How could they be looking for us? No one knows us. We’re not registered yet. In fact, though we’re not hiding, you couldn’t find a better place to hide. Who would look for a pregnant woman ready to give birth in a stable? They stun us with a wild story of angels in the heavens singing praises to God, and a savior, and the Christ child born. Wow. This is not what I thought it would be.
The Christmas story is our story. God at work in our lives through things we would never have guessed. We want to control, be in charge, reason everything out. But God is bigger than our tests and turns them into testimonies for Him.
Joseph and Mary were never alone. You and I are not alone either. In an out-of-the-way stable, or a busy city taking a census, God is always there. He’s there to save you, to deliver you, guide you. But He never comes in great fanfare. Just like Elijah running for his life in 1 Kings: God wasn’t in the great wind, or the attention getting earthquake, or the stunning fire, but a still small voice, a baby in a manger. Not at all what I thought it would be.