By Mary Parker
Joseph abandons his plan and follows God’s plan, trusting the word of God as truth. Then, an Angel of the Lord visits Joseph in a dream and tells him that Mary is in fact carrying Jesus, who “will save his people from their sins”. Joseph does not sit idly by or doubt the word of God (Matthew 1:21). We are told that Joseph was faithful to the law; it is important to remember that before Jesus, the law was the only way for people to consecrate themselves to God. Because Joseph was so faithful to God, he was obedient to God’s word. We are told, “when Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife” (Matthew 1:24). Despite news that would rattle even the most faithful believer, Joseph puts all his trust in God and immediately follows God’s instructions from the moment he wakes up. Joseph abandons his plan and follows God’s plan, trusting the word of God as truth.
The story of Joseph, his strong character and faith show us that God does not operate according to our plans. I’m sure Joseph never dreamt of marrying a pregnant woman whose child was not his own. But I’m also confident that Joseph would not have traded being the earthly father of Jesus for any plans he may have prepared on his own.
As we study this story around Christmas, I encourage you to pray over any plans you have made for your life – for today, tomorrow and long-term. Instead of relying on your own plans, put all your trust in God, our faithful Father who provides a way in every circumstance, even those that test our faith.
Why is Joseph’s story an important aspect of Christmas?
How can you develop the strong faith of Joseph?
“Too much to do.” How many times have you heard that internal voice repeat itself in anxiety and guilt on any given day? Yesterday I found myself sitting in an urgent care waiting room for nearly four hours, frantically wanting to be at home. Even though I knew I was where I needed to be, I rebelled against the way the day led me and tried to hold onto my plans in anger and resentment.
My husband and I survived, even though not every task on my itemized list was checked off. We didn’t eat a meal made from scratch. I didn’t make it to the gym (I’m sure you can tell how that broke my heart). Work took a backseat, and the infernal baseboard dusting was ignored yet again. But we lived, and if only I had surrendered to God’s plan for my day sooner instead of the vision that I stubbornly stuck to despite all the arrows pointing me in another direction, I could have been more obedient and enjoyed the gift of every moment, rather than grumbling and letting time slip ungratefully through my hands.
Letting go of the illusion of control over our lives is tough. In the military we are reminded incessantly that we don’t have control – over where we live, our husbands’ work hours, how long we can be employed or keep our kids in the same school. But we can take comfort that God has control. He has a plan that is always greater and better for us than the ones we devise.
As we try to make plans for our day or our future, we have to remember this truth:
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
We have to ask God to show us His will in every day, and we must be aware enough of His loving, gentle presence to recognize it and be obedient.
It is incredibly comforting to remember that as we go through this process of surrendering to God’s plans, we are never alone, regardless of what the enemy tells us (Hebrews 13:5). Not only has God promised us that we will never be alone, but He also tells us that He is working for the good of those who love Him (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28). God knows our plans are inferior and tentative, compared to His eternal and glorious blueprints. By trusting in God and His plans completely, we can throw off the shackles of anxiety and rejoice in each moment God has provided. We can look toward the future with hope, a gift we could never provide for ourselves.
What areas of my life am I struggling to surrender to God’s control?
What fears do I have about giving my plans over to God?
Am I choosing to live today in obedience and joy, or am I acting in resentment?
Father, thank You for the gift of today. I know that You are working for my good and Your glory. I praise You for Your sovereignty, for always being in control. Thank You for Your awesome plans that are so much better than mine could ever be. Help me to trust You today. Give me eyes to see Your plan, and a humble heart to submit to it throughout the day so that I can live joyfully in each moment. I choose to lay my plans down at Your feet, accepting whatever You have prepared for me today. Amen.
Mary Parker is an Air Force wife who works as a public relations writer. A South Carolina girl at heart, she and her husband have recently relocated to Fairbanks, Alaska. Mary spends her spare time honing exercise and cooking skills, and is a self-proclaimed DIY addict. You can read about how faith and hope shape military family life, and check out Mary's latest projects, at her blog, Mary's Mischief.