Late yesterday afternoon I was going to help my wife up and out of her transport chair when I suddenly thought to stop and make sure that her left arm was not impeded by any part of the chair. As I went down on a knee before her in order to get to a better vantage point, I looked up at her and stated with a smile that I wouldn’t want to do anything to hurt her. Then I got serious as I thought back to our wedding day on July 12, 1975. For at one o’clock on that wonderful day, I entered into a lifelong covenant with her. I clearly remember repeating our vows to each other as we joyfully and earnestly looked into each other’s eyes and declared that we would always love and care for each other “in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”
The words of those vows have come back to me many times over the last six years. When it seemed like my whole life was beginning to unravel before me as the seriousness of my wife’s reported condition came out and some began to question my character and intentions, my only thoughts were that I had made an unbreakable covenant with the woman of my dreams and that I was going to see this thing through until we experienced God’s perfect will for us… no matter what the consequences, no matter what family and friends thought or said to and about us.
Then there came the tough decisions when I knew that I had to protect my wife from things and/or people that were having an adverse effect on her physical and emotional well-being. Once again, I never questioned my role. As a twenty-two year old young man, I had entered into a contract that was backed by the throne of Papa God and no matter what came… I was duty bound and more importantly, so in love with my precious bride that I would do whatever it took to care for her.
These experiences in my life are somewhat in line with the decisions and potential problems and persecutions that faced Joseph as the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him a most incredible story of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind. I have always been impressed and inspired by the way that Joseph took hold of his responsibilities to his young fiancée and became her greatest encourager and protector as they moved forth in the outlandish calling that had been thrust upon them!
Joseph’s love for his bride to be, his obedience to the call of God and his remembrance of his place in the royal line of King David gave him the courage and strength to move forward in life… no matter how his personal plans and purposes were affected!
“##!!XX the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead!”
Monday, the second week of Advent
Today’s Reading: Isaiah 9:6-7 / Matthew 1:18-25 / Ephesians 2:1-6
In a pamphlet entitled: “Preparing To Celebrate Christ’s Birth, ARRIVAL” by Billy Graham, the word Advent is described as meaning “Arrival” and states that it refers to the arrival of Jesus Christ into the world. Over the past week and continuing through the next two, we are taking a daily look into the major events that occurred at the first Christmas as foretold by the Old Testament Prophets and then recalled by the New Testament writers. It is all about the story of the arrival of God into the lives of mankind. It is the drama that began the physical incarnation of God’s plan of salvation.
Today we are looking at the potentially unnerving set of events that began to unfold in the life of a “righteous man” (Matthew 1:19 ASV) named Joseph. Everything in his life was great. He had a successful carpentry business, a nice house and most importantly, a beautiful young upstanding fiancée whom he would soon be bringing into his home as his bride. Then everything seemed to turn upside down! Unexpectedly he comes to find out that his fiancée is pregnant with a child that is not his.
In Matthew 1:19-20 we observe that Joseph’s first thoughts are for the well-being of the women he loves. Under the dictates of Jewish law, his fiancée found to be with child before the wedding could be put to death. As he agonized over the situation he also experiences a heavenly visitation in a dream. Once more we see the hand of God interceding into the midst of the upheaval, in order to assure that His plans go forth without a hitch!
Notice the first words that come forth from the angel to Joseph. He said: “Joseph, son of David…” Just as his whole world began to spin around him, God’s messenger arrives on the scene and immediately “puts this carpenter in mind of his high birth.” (Matthew Henry) Joseph was a direct descendant of King David from whose lineage was prophesied the coming Messiah. The angel, who most scholars assume was the same Gabriel who had brought God’s messages to Zechariah and to his fiancée Mary, knew the importance of quickly diverting Joseph’s attention from the natural order of things to the supernatural purpose and power of God. And from the looks of things, it worked!
Gabriel then proceeded to tell the plan of the coming of Immanuel to Joseph, who from that point never flinched but was “aroused from sleep, (and) did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife.” (Matthew 1:24 NKJV) Now, don’t ask me why, but as I read this the other day, I was immediately reminded of the famous saying of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut as he stood lashed to the rigging of his flagship, the USS Hartford at the all-important battle of Mobil Bay during the waning days of the American Civil War. As his naval fleet began to charge the bay, which was the Confederacy’s last major port open on the Gulf of Mexico, one of his ships, the monitor USS Tecumseh hit a mine and sank. When that occurred the other ships began to pull back.
Upon the observation of this turn of events, it is reported that the Admiral shouted through a trumpet to another one of his ships, the USS Brooklyn, asking “What’s wrong?” Upon hearing the reply of “Torpedoes,” Farragut declared the words that have been etched in infamy shouting: “##!!XX the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” After that, the bulk of his fleet succeeded in entering the bay and Farragut triumphed over the opposition of heavy batteries in Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines to defeat the squadron of the Confederate Admiral Franklin Buchanon.*
It is evident that Admiral Farragut was not moved by the force of the opposition. He was given a task to complete that would advance the end of the war, and he pushed on no matter the depth of the powers that he faced. To me, Farragut was like Joseph who was given a fantastic, almost unconceivable task that most of the powers to be would have thought to be improbable if not impossible. But he quickly thrust aside the doubts and the thoughts of what the people might say and pursued the task given to him by God with earnestness and vigor!
From Mary’s point of view, she must have been greatly relieved and at awe as her husband to be stood by her side, became her protector and led her through the path ahead. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown comment “with what deep and reverential joy would this now be done on his part, and what balm would this minister to his betrothed one, who had til now lain under suspicions of all others…”
Once Joseph was reminded of his legal position as a member of the royal family of David, he brushed aside any questions and set his mind to be the master of his calling. As Christians we should be reminded to do the same in our lives. Ephesians 2:6 gives us the legal right to claim and move on in the special blessings of our heavenly Father. People may criticize, the enemy of our souls may try to condemn us, but as we turn aside from the natural order of things as Joseph did, and focus upon the truth of where we stand in Christ Jesus, we will be able to face the torpedoes of the opposition and triumph for the glory of God!
Are there any obstacles in your life that have caused you to retreat from being the master of your calling? I might suggest that you write these down on small individual pieces of paper, pray over them and release them to God. Then hang these listings of your former obstacles on your Christmas tree among the other ornaments as a reminder of the new life that Jesus has given you, as your pursue His callings in view of your place in Christ Jesus! Have a great day. Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What battles am I expecting victory over today?”