by Molly Audiss
Less than 2 weeks till Christmas! Do you have your shopping done? I don’t. I am one of those last minute people, sorry to say. I admire all of you who shop all year and have your gifts bought and wrapped and stored away. That’s goals, but I don’t see it happening in my life anytime soon!
We are going to finish our study of Joseph, step-dad to Jesus this week. He was a truly great man. He lived in the shadows. Here are a couple more things we see in his life.
- Joseph kept the Jewish laws. He took the baby on the 8th day to be circumcised. He also brought 2 turtle doves to the temple to sacrifice as a thank you gift to God for giving them a child. These were laws set down centuries before in the Old Testament. Joseph for a ruler keeper. This is significant. God chose a man that kept the rules to be the man to mentor His Son. He was not a rebel; he didn’t have all the excuses of why he should do things his own way. Joseph was a trusty-worth, humble rule follower.
Do you ever find yourself giving yourself reasons why you can do whatever you want? You don’t have to obey the law or obey the Bible, in certain circumstances, because you have reasons it doesn’t work for you? This is convicting. I find myself sometimes feeling like an exception to the rules when it’s not convenient for me. This is not a quality found in Bible characters that did great things for God. The most godly examples, past and present, are rule followers.
- Joseph wasn’t perfect. He did have that one time when he LOST God’s son 😊 He travelled home for the Passover celebration in Jerusalem, thinking his 12 year-old boy was with the family, but he wasn’t. For 3 days he had to endure that torture of not knowing he would ever see Jesus alive as he and Mary searched for him. I often wonder how Joseph felt when Jesus called God “my Father” when they found Him in the temple. Was it the first time that he felt like the outsider, the step-dad? (leave it to a junior high boy to be super blunt!) It would take a great man to be content with the role Joseph was given to play in the life of Christ.
Moms, have you ever lost your child? I have. The horror of that feeling! It’s a desperate dread. Our toddler wandered away from us once at a large children’s museum. It was on a day when there were tons of people at the museum. I was frantic for several minutes until we found him. My mind had already thought through the possibility that he could be kidnapped. I can’t imagine going 3 days in a crowded city, wondering where your son could be!
Joseph is not a main character, even in the Christmas story. His name is only mentioned 12 times in the 2 accounts of Christ’s birth in Matthew and Luke. He is very much a background person. His feelings were rarely mentioned at all. Once he was afraid; once he marvelled. He may not have even been in the house when the wise men came with gifts. Only Mary and Jesus were mentioned in that verse. He died at some point before Jesus’ earthly ministry began. He had a very important life, but very hidden.
I can’t help but identify. I desire purpose in my life, significance. I want to matter, my life to make a difference. I want to bring God glory. But, if my lifetime were written out in bullet points (like above), would it seem important? In the daily schedule of raising kids, doing laundry, cleaning the house, teaching Sunday school 30 minutes a week, running errands…..nothing stands out as impressive. It’s easy to be in the middle of the mundane tasks and wonder if I’m doing anything that will matter in 100 years. You may feel this way with the tasks you do at your job. I wonder if Joseph ever felt that way. He only saw Jesus as a child and an apprentice in the carpenter’s shop. He did not live to see the miracles, the Resurrection. I wonder if he thought he was doing it all wrong. He was tasked with having the Messiah in his home, but was he doing enough? Only he and Mary knew Who Jesus was. Even his other children didn’t know. They would not understand until after Christ’s death. I wonder if Joseph struggled with confusion at times. What was the Lord’s plan in Jesus’ life? He couldn’t give him much. He was simply that steady, God-fearing man who cared for his family and tried to earn a living to provide for them.
Do you ever wonder these things? My oldest child is a senior in high school, and it has me often asking myself, did I do enough? Did I train him as well as I could. I always feel that I have fallen short…..so, so short. In the middle of it, it’s hard to see objectively. It’s being a taxi for all the sports and activities, for helping study for the tests, making the meals. But is it significant?
Friend, we see, looking back at the Christmas story, that Joseph was exactly the right man for the right time. He did not have a flashy, obvious role in the grand story of God sending His Son down to save the world. He was hidden, quiet, but valuable. Jesus learned how to use his hands to build things from Joseph. He probably held a hammer just like his step-dad. He saw what it looked like to care for a family, to be faithful, to love God from Joseph. Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man with the help of a righteous stepfather who was happy to have a small part in God’s plan.
Mom, Wife, Teacher, Neighbor, Friend, Co-worker— your life is significant. It matters for now and for eternity! It may not be front-and-center, in fact, that is the point. Your role is hidden, quietly unseen, but so necessary. Please remember, this Christmas season, that your faithfulness if a gift you give back to the Lord. He sees you, He put you right where you are to faithfully do, with His help, exactly what you are doing. Your smile and kindness is a light to someone who you don’t even know is watching. Your family needs you. Thank you for your steady love and care. Someday you will see just how much it all mattered.
Have a wonderful week, Friends! You are loved!