Those who turn to Jesus Christ, and accept his promise, begin to open our mouths with a new song, a song that tells of the pit, of the muck and mire of our making, and then sings the tune El gives. The song, the life, the story then belongs to him and we are the happy beneficiaries of his promise, heirs to the kingdom of heaven, children of God.
I believe Joseph knew waiting required obedience–active participation in the will and ways of God. And we are all the grandly grateful recipients because Joseph listened and obeyed and believed he would indeed “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”. That gift, that goodness lay in the rosy lips and rounded cheeks and bright, innocent eyes of the baby he would hold and give the name Jesus. It was because of Joseph’s commitment and parenting that Jesus learned the word, Abba, Daddy.
Joseph obeyed. Joseph stayed. Joseph: the unsung hero of our Christmas story. Just an average Joe. Extraordinary.
It’s important to remember that Mary is continuing to obey God, to live according to her declaration that she is God’s cooperative servant, in the midst of tremendous inner turmoil. She is walking along a path lit only step-by-step. She cannot see the tunnel, let alone the light at the end of it; she is walking obediently through the chaos of each moment, the what-if’s of right now.
So God works in our lives, too. We with wobbly-faith and show-me attitudes.
He does his best work and his most perfect will because of his love for us, not because of our love for him.
He gives us room to grow, silent places in which to think and wander and pray, lonely times when we long for his presence.
His gives us new promises to hold in our arms and in our hearts and lullabies of praise and helps us sing the love song back to him, because of this “tender mercy of our God by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
He taught from the book of Daniel that evening and there were two people in the audience, his wife and daughter. He finished his talk, closed in prayer and we went home.
That’s when I knew what a prophet was.
It’s a lonely, terrible job and few are up to the task.