I just finished up an amazing Christmas day with some beautiful friends. Lots of laughter and games, and food. lots of food. God has blessed us so much to be able to spend this special day in such a wonderful way.
This week for bible study I have been reading through the Christmas story for bible study, and God really lead me to look deeper into Joseph. These are a few thoughts out of my jornal. Literally. Copy and pasted out of it. And not proof read at all. So please forgive whatever mistakes you find. :)
He was a man who was a wonderful example of unconditional love. When he was faced with customs, and people’s opinions he instead considered Mary, and how she would be effected by his actions. He put his self aside, and gave to Mary, even when she was the one considered to have sinned, and wronged against him.
How many times in our own life do we do this? Never in mine. When someone wrongs me, I am normally too busy dosing myself in self pity and anger to remember their feelings. And when I occasionally do, what is my response? Well they wronged me so they deserve this... or I guess I could extend a finger to help, but if any hurt is coming my way, I am going to pull it back and let them fall.
But Joseph took up and followed God’s calling. And the Son of God was born because of this. And He was born into a loving family. This shows, that when we follow not only God’s commandments to love above all else, but when we follow His calling into the unknown, we not only provide ourselves with the most wonderful possibilities for the future, but we also grace one another’s lives with Joy, Love and Peace, all of these which only come from God.
Just going to finish up the Joseph thoughts. After all of this, after Joseph made the decision and commitment to stay with Mary, their story continues. Believe it or not, God brings more hardship his way.
Mary and Joseph find out that they have to travel to Bethlehem for the census. He did not have a car he could just throw Mary in, and drive off into the sunset. He did not even have a horse. All he had was one humble donkey, and a whole lot of love for his betrothed, and the baby in her, the one that caused so many problems in the first place. But Joseph did not get depressed. He did not throw his hands up and tell God life was just too hard. He took up Mary, the baby inside of her and the donkey, and headed off on a journey. He was faced with difficulty yet again when they came to Bethlehem. We have all heard this a million times. There was no room for them in the in. It sung every year by hundreds of children’s choirs, and it had been told a thousand times by christmas plays. But can we truly understand what Joseph was feeling? He had Mary, who was in labor, and probably not in the best not in the best of moods, and there was no room for them. Now we don’t truly know how things went down, but you can guess that a lot of innkeepers were not about to let it be known that a unmarried pregnant couple had stayed in their inn. So Joseph, is confronted yet again with a chocie. A choice to love, to love unconditional, or to put up a condition, and say, Mary, I have come this far. I have pulled you over hill and valley feed you, and accepted you when no one else would. I gave up my friends, my family, my reputation for you. This is just too much. I can’t do it. Your on your own.
But as we all know very well, that is not what he did. He searched, and when he was turned away from the inns, he kept looking. He found a stable, with dirt and animals and a manger. What kind of person was he? All he could provide for Mary was a lonely stable. She was about to give birth for heaven’s sake! But he did his best. He went the absolute furthest he could go. And all for the sake of love. For God.
How many of us would do this? Though we will never be faced with the same circumstances as he was, we are faced with different callings from God every day. Callings to be a good wife, calling to be a mother. Callings to work hard for our family, callings to love a friend when they wronged us. Calling to do our best in school. To do our best in chores, or work. How do we respond to this callings? Do we face this with the thought of unconditional love? Do we say, there is absolutely no condition under heaven that will make me desert this calling that God has given me? Or do we put up limits, conditions for God, and the people around us.
I will only love my children if they respect me in return. I will only love my wife if she has dinner prepared every night. I will only love my friends if they stay out of trouble. I will only do my school work if it comes easily to me.
How many of us say things like that? Or how many of us preserve through difficulty, after difficulty, and then finally come to what we thing is the end. And say, “ God, you have pushed my limits one to many times. You have worked me too hard. I am done, I just can’t do this.”
None of that is what God has called us too. He will push our limits. He will give us difficult times. He will most likely make us thing once or twice that our world is about to come crashing down around us. But He has unconditional love for us, even as we continually fail, and He continually picks us up again. He asks us to have unconditional love for Him. To trust Him, and to do our best, in every sort of task He puts before us. We may have to trust, take a leap of faith sometimes. Joseph certainly did that after being confronted about Mary. But we we step out, push our limits, and our conditions, and tell God and the people around us, that there is no condition under heaven or earth that can make us stop loving, that, that is when we truly discover what love, what unconditional love, is.