Sunday, December 8, 2013

Joseph's Lullaby

Every Christmas there is always one song that stands out from the others and speaks to me.  Some years it's a new song.  Others it's one I've heard a thousand times before.  I know I'm a little slow on new things these days, but I recently figured out I could play songs from Pandora on my phone.  So on my drives here and there and everywhere I've been listening to Christmas music.  And one song that has played over and over is "Joseph's Lullaby" by MercyMe.  I've heard this song before, but for some reason, this year it has whispered to my heart.

There are many things you can take from the song.  How even with the burden of the road before Him, Jesus slept in perfect peace in that manger...and how we should be more concerned with sharing His love and resting in His love than in the hustle and bustle of the season.  How God came in human form because of a love we will never comprehend and sought us to love before we ever dreamed of loving Him.  How Christ was born with such a costly job to do.  But the thing that stands out most to me this year is Joseph and the depth of love it took for him to take Mary for his wife and to love Jesus as his own child.

Joseph's story is an amazing account of an honorable man who chose to follow God in spite of the ridicule, shame, embarrassment or pain he may have faced.  Joseph chose to do what few men back then (or even today) would have guts enough to do.  But it was his love for Mary, and ultimately for God, that persuaded him to obey.  What man would take a woman for his wife who was already with child?  A child that wasn't his.  We can look back now on the story and believe with faith that Mary was with child by the Holy Spirit.  However, I'm sure at the time Joseph was filled with questions and doubts.  Was the message from the angel something he could believe?  Was it all really true?  I can only imagine the thoughts that went through his head.  And even after the angel came and told him the truth of the miracle and after God saw them safely to Jerusalem and the baby was delivered...  I wonder if Joseph asked why in the world God would entrust him to raise His Son.

Joseph.  A simple carpenter.  He didn't have much.  He wasn't from a prominent family.  There was nothing to make him stand out from the crowd.  Yet, God chose him to raise the One who would take away the sin of the world.  What a daunting task!  And Joseph chose to obey.  He agreed to go ahead with the plan to take Mary as his wife.  And he agreed to raise a child that was not his own.  He took on Jesus as his own, loved him as his own, raised him as his own...knowing all along that this Child was special beyond belief.

I am amazed at Joseph's character and trust in God.  And I am so thankful he chose to follow the path God had for matter how scary or odd or difficult.  It is in his love for Mary and the baby that we truly see an awesome example of God's love for us.  The lengths that Joseph went to in order to care for Jesus and to provide a home for Him...  They are nothing in compare with the lengths that God went to (and continues to go to every day) to care for and provide for us.

And that is what Christmas is all about!   A love so deep and wide and far reaching that it came to a manger long ago in the form of a baby.  And a love that was modeled so beautifully in the love that Joseph had for that baby.  When I think of Joseph, I often think about how people take on the responsibility of sharing God's love with others at times when it may be difficult or scary or unpopular...whether it be adopting an orphan, taking in foster children, being a step parent, a grandparent raising grandchildren, working in a care giving field, providing a warm meal or warm coat for someone in need, providing gifts for a family in need at Christmas or just letting someone know they are loved...and how God can use each and every one of those stories as a testimony of His love and provision.

God chose Joseph all those years ago because He knew Joseph's heart was pure and was fixed on Him.  He didn't chose him because he was perfect or had it all together.  He chose him because He knew he would love Mary and His Son without condition.  He knew that when we looked back and read the story that we would see His love for us in Joseph's love for baby Jesus.  God came as a baby in a manger, prepared the way for salvation and gave a promise that He is always, always with us.  No gift could be greater.

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