Posted by: mikenicholsblog | January 4, 2016

trust and obey

Everybody loves the song that we just put away for another year, “Mary, Did You Know?” If I was blessed to compose songs, the sequel would be, “Joseph, Could You Imagine?” Mary was pregnant with the very Son of God, and this was undeniably an odd (like, once in all of history!) set of circumstances. But Joseph encountered the angel of the Lord in a dream, obeyed God’s plan and honored Mary! After the birth, Joseph led a family which included the only sinless person to ever walk the face of the earth. Could Joseph have ever imagined the honor that was his? But just like in any family, difficulties came, and Joseph had to lead. In chapter two of Matthew, there are two more specific encounters with an angel of the Lord that shaped Joseph’s future … and in reality, all of history. Thank goodness he obeyed, but could he have ever imagined his role in history?

We can only imagine what life-altering changes Jesus’ birth had already caused Joseph and Mary. But now they all have to flee to Egypt for protection from Herod. That’s right! God directed Joseph to leave Bethlehem hurriedly and escape to Egypt. It was 75 miles to the border, and then possibly another 100 miles of travel for complete safety. Can you imagine what that trip was like with a young child? After a period of time had passed, they are led by God to return to Israel because Herod was dead. Tough trip, but Matthew states prophecy was fulfilled; “Out of Egypt I called my Son.

But wait … there was more trouble. Upon returning to Israel, Joseph realized that Herod’s son, Archelaus, was ruling in Judea. Bad news! God leads Joseph to take his family to the rough and tumble city called Nazareth for protection. Admittedly, this is a lot of travel for a young family with no great form of transportation. Mary and Joseph were originally from Nazareth, but there was a greater reason for this move. Matthew 2:23 gives us the following words: And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene. Could Joseph ever have imagined his role in fulfilling prophecy?

God’s divine providence is with them all as they run. But as I view Christ’s birth, the trip to Egypt, and then to Nazareth, I can only venture to guess the thoughts that ran through Joseph’s mind. Could he have ever imagined?!  Although directed by God, Joseph wasn’t a robot and his life (and Mary’s) was altered significantly by the unusual commands of the Father. His obedience to God’s plan meant personal sacrifice. God’s journey for Christ was placed in the hands of an obedient young man, and Joseph obeyed the Lord’s directions!

You and I are also nurturing someone’s journey. Listening to God along that journey is important. There will be times when you think God’s plan makes no sense. Do you think Joseph had any of those “this makes no sense” thoughts? But it always does! Someone’s future and spiritual journey will be affected by our response to the will of God. It may not have the significance of raising and protecting the very Son of God, but our obedience in those moments matters. Are you listening well and trusting God to lead you as you begin 2016? Are you obeying that leading? Your family, friends and work associates need you to be listening, trusting and obeying the Father.

Hard choices and the will of God will often cause you and me to pause.  God already knows what He wants from us….trust and obedience.  I can’t imagine living Joseph’s journey. But in a very simple way, his choices are like ours … to trust and obey! Joseph’s obedience to God’s commands was significant in the epic journey of Jesus.  Just like Joseph, you and I have an important role in someone’s journey. Who benefits when you and I listen to the Father well? Someone else….that we love! Could Joseph have imagined what his obedience would mean?

Can you imagine what your obedience can mean?!


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