The holidays are here! Every year I try to figure out how to create family memories besides those that include eating hotel breakfasts buffets for days during family visits and watching Star Wars movies.
The truth is the best way to keep our boys focused on the true meaning of Christmas is to keep myself in the right frame of mind. It’s tempting to gloss over the Christmas story.
When our kids were younger I would spend time reading the book What God Really Wants for Christmas is You each night during recruiting season. This was a great way to begin the holiday season and remind our boys to look beyond material gifts.
Now that everyone is older and busier it’s harder to find moments to pause and reflect together. Of course, as a wife and mother, I’ve always felt drawn to Mary, Jesus’ mother.
Mary’s courage is so inspiring. In Luke 1:26-38 an angel visits her and tells her three things. First, God views her as highly favored. Second, the angel says, “the Lord is with you.” The third thing the angel says is the most amazing. Luke 1:30-33 says:
But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him 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 Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
I think Mary was in shock because rather than argue or disagree she asks the angel for clarification since she is a virgin and after an explanation, she responds in verse 38 with the most courageous response I believe anyone could muster. “ 'I am the Lord’s servant,' Mary answered. 'May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.”
With one sentence Mary took a step of obedience that changed the world forever and I’m so thankful for her courage. Her choice shifted the trajectory of the world. Consider this, we measure time by the birth and death of Mary’s child. B.C. and A.D.
Still, many people focus on Mary as they tell the Christmas story and consider Joseph a minor character. But I believe this is a mistake.
It’s easy to look at Joseph as an afterthought when you read the Christmas story in Luke because he isn’t present when the angel appears to Mary. Not only that, Joseph learns that his fiancé is pregnant, and he knows it is not his baby. Matthew informs us that Joseph made the decision to leave Mary without going through with the marriage before he receives clarification.
As Bob Goff succinctly points out, “Be patient when it gets weird. The angels explained things to Joseph after he’d talked to Mary, not before.”
Matthew 1: 19-21 says,
Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet 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."
As I reflect on these verses as well as the rest of the Christmas story through the lens of a coach’s wife’s eye I can feel the air leave Joseph's lungs as he hears the news. I can picture his knees buckling under him as he tries to make sense of his new reality. With one sentence his entire future changed.
Joseph was learning how to be a carpenter and planning a marriage with Mary. Mary made a decision for both of them that completely flipped their future upside down with one tiny sentence. I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.
Change is never easy. As coaches’ wives, we go where our husband’s jobs bring us. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy. When your husband comes home and one sentence flips your entire future upside-down, fear may convince you to consider leaving.
It’s scary to hear “I was fired” or “I have an interview with X” or “I’m resigning.”
But consider this: Joseph stuck by Mary. He trusted her willingness to obey God even when she didn’t know the whole story. He believed the angels who were God’s messengers. Joseph served his wife and cared for her and the most amazing miracle happened.
Joseph didn’t have a choice in how his future was changing, but he did have a choice in his response to the changes.