Devotions for Christmas: Joseph teaches me to pause, count to ten, pray and pray again

I’ve been hit in the face with a hockey puck.

A basketball bounced off my head a few times in elementary school and broke my glasses at least once.

A softball came hurtling at me when I was about 13 or so and slammed into my side.

Most people, you know, see balls zooming through the air straight toward their face and do smart things like step aside or jump out of the way or duck.christmas3

Not me.

Given the choice between fright or flight, I just choose freeze.

It’s pretty much a guarantee that if forced to make a decision in a moment of pressure, I’ll choose the most stupid thing you can possibly do.

Now you know not to pick me for your kickball team.

I need time, lots of time, to ponder and consider a response to any situation, question, or problem.  I can’t just hit that reply on the email message and I generally avoid the phone which requires instant feedback.  A comfortable phone conversation for me would look like this:

“Heather, what do you think about _______?”

“I don’t know.  Let me think about it and I’ll email you back later.”

That, of course, defeats the whole purpose of the initial phone call, which was to handle the problem quickly.

But I don’t do quickly.  Quickly for me results in broken glasses, a hockey puck in the face and a sore back where the softball slammed into me.

Quickly results in foolish decisions, words I wish I hadn’t said, poor judgment, and costly mistakes.

The world, though, is in a rush and I feel the pushing and the pressure like everyone else to respond, decide, make things happen, be a mover and a shaker and a go-getter!

Yet, I read this Christmas story and consider anew what God can teach me from a carpenter and a teenage girl called out by God to participate in this miracle of God-in-human-flesh.

God chose a simple hard-working man named Joseph, maybe one who knew so well not to rush the measuring, or the cutting, or smoothing over of the splintered surface.

Choose your wood wisely.  Go with the grain.  Etch out the plan before carving.

Perhaps those are the lessons Joseph knew from years as a carpenter.

In Scripture, he doesn’t talk, not once.  We never hear him fret to God about the news that his fiancee was pregnant and not by him….or ask Mary to explain herself ….or welcome shepherds and kings to the Savior’s birth…or even spill out words of wisdom to the little boy named Jesus.

He takes his time, this Joseph, doesn’t spit out words right away and apologize for them later.

He’s the strong, silent type.

And when he hears the news of Mary’s pregnancy, he doesn’t rush to accuse or punish.  Instead,

 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 (Matthew 1:19-20 NIV).

In The Women of Christmas, Liz Curtis Higgs writes:

“Joseph did not act in haste.  He thought things through.  Prayed things through.  He ‘contemplated’ (NET); he ‘pondered’ (MOUNCE).  When at last Joseph decided to sleep on it, ‘God graciously directed him what to do'” (The Women of Christmas, p. 105).

Joseph considered, contemplated, pondered.Wreath of Snow_cvr.indd

May we do the same.

And, while I fail and fail again at making quick decisions, still I balk when God asks me to wait and whine about the uncertainty of next steps and needed direction.

I hate to be pushed and pressured, and yet I push and pressure God.

Quickly, Lord, faster, faster.  Show me, move me, use me, deliver me….now, now, now!

Pause.

Count to ten.

Pray and pray again.

Ponder, consider, contemplate….choose the wood wisely, go with the grain, measure and plan before cutting and shaping.

That’s what He says to me as I tap my foot impatiently.

He is, after all, a Master Carpenter:

For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything (Hebrews 3:4).

The Nazarene carpenter named Joseph teaches me more about the Heavenly Carpenter who builds and shapes my very own life into the masterpiece of His own choosing and planning.  And it requires patience, so much patience.

I must take my time to respond to others, breathe in before answering, consider before replying.

and

I must trust the timing of my God, trust His touch, the way He sands down my roughness and slices off those unwieldy edges with patient care.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

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