From Faith Gateway, written by Max Lucado
Iâ€™d like to know about the night in theÂ stable. I can picture Joseph there. Moonlit pastures.Â Stars twinkle above. Bethlehem sparkles in the distance.Â There he is, pacing outside the stable.
What was he thinking while Jesus was being born?Â What was on his mind while Mary was giving birth?Â Heâ€™d done all he could do â€” heated the water, preparedÂ a place for Mary to lie. Heâ€™d made Mary asÂ comfortable as she could be in a barn and then heÂ stepped out. Sheâ€™d asked to be alone, and Joseph hadÂ never felt more so.
In that eternity between his wifeâ€™s dismissal andÂ Jesusâ€™ arrival, what was he thinking? He walked intoÂ the night and looked into the stars. Did he pray?
For some reason, I donâ€™t see him silent; I see JosephÂ animated, pacing. Head shaking one minute, fist shakingÂ the next. This isnâ€™t what he had in mind. I wonderÂ what he saidâ€¦
This isnâ€™t the way I planned it, God. Not at all. MyÂ child being born in a stable? This isnâ€™t the way IÂ thought it would be. A cave with sheep and donkeys,Â hay and straw? My wife giving birth with only the starsÂ to hear her pain?
This isnâ€™t at all what I imagined. No, I imaginedÂ family. I imagined grandmothers. I imagined neighborsÂ clustered outside the door and friends standing atÂ my side. I imagined the house erupting with the firstÂ cry of the infant. Slaps on the back. Loud laughter.Â Jubilation.
Thatâ€™s how I thought it would be.
The midwife would hand me my child and all theÂ people would applaud. Mary would rest, and we wouldÂ celebrate. All of Nazareth would celebrate.
But now. Now look. Nazareth is five daysâ€™ journeyÂ away. And here we are in aâ€¦ in a sheep pasture. WhoÂ will celebrate with us? The sheep? The shepherds? TheÂ stars?
This doesnâ€™t seem right. What kind of husbandÂ am I? I provide no midwife to aid my wife. No bed toÂ rest her back. Her pillow is a blanket from my donkey.Â My house for her is a shed of hay and straw.
The smell is bad; the animals are loud. Why, IÂ even smell like a shepherd myself.
Did I miss something? Did I, God?
When You sent the angel and spoke of the SonÂ being born â€” this isnâ€™t what I pictured. I envisionedÂ Jerusalem, the temple, the priests, and the people gatheredÂ to watch. A pageant perhaps. A parade. A banquetÂ at least. I mean, this is the Messiah!
Or, if not born in Jerusalem, how about Nazareth? Wouldnâ€™t Nazareth have been better? At least there IÂ have my house and my business. Out here, what doÂ I have? A weary mule, a stack of firewood, and a potÂ of warm water. This is not the way I wanted it to be!Â This is not the way I wanted my son.
Oh my, I did it again. I did it again, didnâ€™t I,Â Father? I donâ€™t mean to do that; itâ€™s just that I forget.Â Heâ€™s not my sonâ€¦ Heâ€™s Yours.
The child is Yours. The plan is Yours. The idea isÂ Yours. And forgive me for asking butâ€¦ is this howÂ God enters the world? The coming of the angel, Iâ€™veÂ accepted. The questions people asked about the pregnancy,Â I can tolerate. The trip to Bethlehem, fine.Â But why a birth in a stable, God?
Any minute now Mary will give birth. Not to aÂ child, but to the Messiah. Not to an infant, but toÂ God. Thatâ€™s what the angel said. Thatâ€™s what MaryÂ believes. And, God, my God, thatâ€™s what I want toÂ believe. But surely You can understand; itâ€™s not easy.Â It seems soâ€¦ soâ€¦ soâ€¦ bizarre.
Iâ€™m unaccustomed to such strangeness, God. Iâ€™mÂ a carpenter. I make things fit. I square off the edges.Â I follow the plumb line. I measure twice before IÂ cut once. Surprises are not the friend of a builder. IÂ like to know the plan. I like to see the plan before I begin.
But this time Iâ€™m not the builder, am I? This timeÂ Iâ€™m a tool. A hammer in Your grip. A nail betweenÂ Your fingers. A chisel in Your hands. This project isÂ Yours, not mine.
I guess itâ€™s foolish of me to question You. ForgiveÂ my struggling. Trust doesnâ€™t come easy to me, God.Â But You never said it would be easy, did You?
One final thing, Father. The angel You sent? AnyÂ chance You could send another? If not an angel, maybeÂ a person? I donâ€™t know anyone around here, and someÂ company would be nice. Maybe the innkeeper or aÂ traveler? Even a shepherd would do.
I wonder. Did Joseph ever pray such a prayer? PerhapsÂ he did. Perhaps he didnâ€™t.
But you probably have.
Youâ€™ve stood where Joseph stood. Caught betweenÂ what God says and what makes sense. Youâ€™ve done whatÂ He told you to do only to wonder if it was Him speakingÂ in the first place. Youâ€™ve stared into a sky blackenedÂ with doubt. And youâ€™ve asked what Joseph asked.
Youâ€™ve asked if youâ€™re still on the right road.Â Youâ€™ve asked if you were supposed to turn left whenÂ you turned right. And youâ€™ve asked if there is a planÂ behind this scheme. Things havenâ€™t turned out likeÂ you thought they would.
Each of us knows what itâ€™s like to search the nightÂ for light. Not outside a stable, but perhaps outside anÂ emergency room. On the gravel of a roadside. On theÂ manicured grass of a cemetery. Weâ€™ve asked our questions.Â We questioned Godâ€™s plan. And weâ€™ve wonderedÂ why God does what He does.
The Bethlehem sky is not the first to hear theÂ pleading of a confused pilgrim.
If you are asking what Joseph asked, let me urge youÂ to do what Joseph did.Â Obey.Â Thatâ€™s what he did. HeÂ obeyed. He obeyed when the angel called. He obeyedÂ when Mary explained. He obeyed when God sent.
He was obedient to God.
He was obedient when the sky was bright.
He was obedient when the sky was dark.
He didnâ€™t let his confusion disrupt his obedience.Â He didnâ€™t know everything. But he did what he knew.Â He shut down his business, packed up his family, andÂ went to another country. Why? Because thatâ€™s whatÂ God said to do.
What about you? Just like Joseph, you canâ€™t see theÂ whole picture. Just like Joseph, your task is to see thatÂ Jesus is brought into your part of your world. And justÂ like Joseph, you have a choice: to obey or disobey. BecauseÂ Joseph obeyed, God used him to change the world.
Can He do the same with you?
God still looks for Josephs today. Men and womenÂ who believe that God is not through with this world.Â Common people who serve an uncommon God.
Will you be that kind of person? Will you serveâ€¦Â even when you donâ€™t understand?
Check out this song written by Jeff R. Steele and performed by Greg Sullivan.