One Christian gay guy’s thoughts and experiences along this whirlwind journey called life.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The Trust of Mary and Joseph, and George Bailey
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
“I am the Lord's servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:26-38)
Could you imagine being in Mary's place? I'm sure she knew that allowing God to use her in order to bring about the savior of the whole human race would indeed lead her to experience many difficulties and hardships—and probably much ridicule. She had to be wondering what others would think of her. How would Joseph respond, knowing he was not the father? How would her family react? Would they believe her story, or would they believe she had had sex outside of wedlock? Would the rest of the people in her village believe her? And what about the future? All eyes would now be upon her son, and obviously on her, being the mother of the Savior. Mary had to have great trust in the Lord in order to willingly offer herself to Him in such a manner. Just think, she could have refused! She could have told the angel Gabriel, “I will not have this child. It would ruin me!” But Mary did no such thing. She simply agreed to let the Lord use her for His own purposes. That is exceptional trust and faith on her part in the Lord. This showed her love for God, over a love for herself. She would have this child, she would name him Jesus, and she would raise him and love him with all of her heart. She did as the Lord had asked of her.
And now we come to Joseph.
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” -- which means, “God with us.”
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25)
I think Joseph was truly a man of great character. When he found out that Mary was pregnant, knowing the child within her was not his own, he could have easily thrown a huge tantrum, brought Mary before the city elders, and brought her to total disgrace, if not death. But Joseph was a good and caring man, and even though he was assuredly hurt and disappointed by the news of her pregnancy, he had decided to divorce her quietly in order to spare her from any disgrace. I have no doubt in my mind that Joseph was a very good man indeed, and that he did genuinely care about others.
After an angel of the Lord (who quite possibly could have been the same angel, Gabriel, who visited Mary) came to Joseph and explained the situation to him in a dream, Joseph decided to place his trust in the Lord. He took Mary home as his wife, refrained from having sexual intercourse with her until after the baby had been born, and called that baby Jesus. He did as God had asked of him.
No doubt, Joseph knew he was going to be taking on a huge responsibility. And I'm sure he questioned what other's would think, just as Mary, but he did not let that stop him from doing what the Lord wanted him to do. He placed his trust in the Lord and followed through with the plans, which God had made for him. Like Mary, he showed great love for God by submitting himself to God this way. He would take Mary as his wife, raise Jesus as his son, train him, teach him, and love him. And he honored God by doing so.
I have great respect for Mary and Joseph. I find comfort in their ability to trust God. I find comfort in knowing that they trusted God with such a difficult responsibility, and that God led them and took care of them throughout. Their trust paid off in such a marvelous way. Just think about it. Mary could have refused to give birth to God's son. Joseph could have refused to marry Mary. Both could have altered God's plans for their lives in such a drastic way. But instead, they trusted God, and allowed Him to use them in a way that would bring about a great good for all of mankind.
I keep trying to build my trust in God. Here at Christmas, as I read passages such as the ones above, involving Jesus' birth, seeing how Mary and Joseph trusted God in this situation, I can't help but feel a greater desire to do the same in my own life. I want to trust God. In my past, it hasn't always been easy for me to do that. But I know if I can only learn to trust God, he will use my life for great good. And if I can be used for any good in advancing His plans, I think that's a great thing. I want to be able to do that. I want to be able to give my whole life for whatever plans he has for me.
One of my favorite movies is called “It's A Wonderful Life”, and one of the things I have always loved about that movie is the way the character George Bailey always thought more of others than of himself. He had to make some rather huge sacrifices in his own life in order to do that, and that would cause him to despair throughout much of his life. But in the end, he discovers all those sacrifices throughout the years were well worth the price. God used his life in order to touch so many other lives around him. He used George Bailey in order to bring about a great good, which, without him, would never have taken place. Had he never lived, as he is given the opportunity to see, the people he had helped and loved in his life would have lived far different lives. They would have experienced much harder lives.
What George realizes is that his life has purpose. His life had great meaning. And though he may have little on this earth in terms of material or comfort, he had an abundance in friendship and love. But he also had favor with God. And it was God's will for him to continue living. Once he is revealed how much good he can bring about in this world, he breaks down and desperately begs God, “I wanna live again! Please God! Let me live again!” A man who was at the brink of wanting to give up on life, realizes just how great a life he really had, and how valuable he was to God and others in this life. He would go on living, trusting God. And I love that.
There again, at Christmas time, we get to see how trusting God is worth it in the end. My hope is that for all those reading this, you will trust God as well. Reach out to God and let him take full control over your lives, and see if miracles don't start happening. Allow God to use you to better this world, and to bring about great things indeed.