Reevaluating the purpose of your faith step
We don’t give Joseph enough credit. Mary gets a great deal of the focus in the story of Jesus, and rightfully so. Elizabeth exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear” (Luke 1:42 NIV)! And an angel of the Lord said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28 ESV)!
Blessed and favored by God is not a bad place to be. What more could you want?
Then there’s Joseph. He got no such description, but don’t be deceived. He was not just along for the ride. Joseph was a man of great faith. He carried the burden to protect this prophetic moment. He was responsive to the dreams God gave him, and let’s not forget about his humanity. Joseph felt fear, doubt and insecurities — just as we do. Ever since Adam, men have forsaken the weight of responsibility, but not Joseph. Let’s look at the reality of his situation.
- He did not impregnate Mary, but he was now committed to care for her as his wife, trusting in this immaculate conception. There had to be more than one moment when he thought he was losing his mind. Did an angel really visit him? Did he just have too much wine? Was the heat getting to him?
- He had to take his pregnant wife on a long journey … on a donkey. Not the ideal prenatal care Mary needed. What if something happened to her on the journey? What if they were robbed? What if she fell off the donkey and something happened to the baby?
- Unfamiliar city? Baby on the way? No problem, we’ll just stay at a local inn. Wait, what? Joseph, didn’t you book the hotel? He must have felt an unbelievable amount of stress. They had no place to go with Mary just hours from giving birth to the Son of God! THIS COULD NOT BE HAPPENING. Did Joseph feel like a failure? Did he feel like he was neglecting his responsibility? You can imagine the sense of urgency pulsing through his veins.
- Yay! Finally! Jesus is born! No robe for him. No silk sheets. Nope, he gets swaddling clothes and stuck in a feeding trough. Not exactly the ideal environment for the Savior of the World. Joseph may have patted himself on the back for making it happen against all odds, but feelings of failure also had to prod at his psyche.
- Finally, Joseph could breathe. It wasn’t the ideal pregnancy, but hey. He kept Mary safe and healthy, and now Jesus was here. What’s that? Jesus is being hunted by Herod the Great? Joseph probably had one of those, “Are you serious, God?!” moments. We’ve all had them. And back on the road they go.
If this wasn’t such a serious, history-shaping story, it could have also been a comedy. One let down after another with the weight of the world on his shoulders, but Joseph didn’t falter. He accepted the weight of responsibility, but more importantly, he embraced what it looks like to live by faith.
When we think about taking a faith step, we’re not always focused on the step.
We view the step as unavoidable to accomplish what we really want. We don’t like the faith step. We don’t even like the journey. We simply want the treasure at the end of the rainbow, so we take the step. Generally, we take the step with no intention of acknowledging the importance of the step until AFTER we have finished the journey.
- But what if there is no treasure at the end of the rainbow?
- What if the journey we thought would yield such great fruit and reward ended in mediocrity?
- What if we deem the result of the faith step a failure?
- What if there is no hotel, only a manger?
If this is the case, you may need to re-evaluate the purpose of the faith step.
The Faith Step Isn’t a Guarantee
There are no guarantees your faith step will end as you hope. We look at Abraham and Isaac and use the story of Abraham’s faith step as a doctrinal stance to believe in God’s unwavering protection, but how then do we justify Paul’s imprisonment, Stephen’s martyrdom or Christ’s crucifixion? Their faith steps didn’t lead them to 6-figurebook deals, a Christian speaking circuit or an invitation to be the keynote speaker at a major leadership conference. They had a goal in mind, but they understood their goals may not be God’s goals. They had to be ok with wherever the faith step would take them.
- They focused on the glory found in being chosen to take any step at all to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Faith Step is Enough on Its Own
Looking back on life, we can appreciate the journey. We can relish the wins and the losses, the grief and the joy. Our life plays out like our favorite movie, full of ups, downs, plot twists and nail-biting thrills. However, we can’t script our life as we would a movie. Why? Because as a follower of Jesus, we are not the authors of our story. We are actors in an ever-changing script, fully reliant on the author and director to guide us through every scene. We don’t need to know if our life will be a box-office hit. We just need to focus on the scene we are in, no matter how mundane or seemingly inconsequential.
2. Sometimes the faith step is really a faithful step. It’s being present where you are and trusting the final product to the creator and director of the script.
The Faith Step is Yours to Own
You can’t blame your inaction on others. At the end of their lives people often say they regret the things they didn’t do, more than the things they didn’t do well. They don’t clamor for more work time; they regret not spending more time with their family. They anguish over not taking the risk. They are disappointed they let others intimidate them into apathy. They feel remorse for not standing up for the poor, broken and mistreated. They wish they’d done more with the years they were given. All of these regrets stem from faith step avoidance.
3. The faith step is yours to take, nobody else’s. Own it, take it and if it doesn’t turn out as you would have hoped, at least you were obedient.
Do the thing God’s asked of you, no matter how ridiculous it may seem. Do it with no guarantees, other than the satisfaction of obedience, and trust the results to God.
Let your faith step be your first step to the person He has called you to be.
Joseph couldn’t be Mary. He was not tasked to carry Jesus. He could only do what He could do. And while his faith step probably never turned out as he predicted, you can’t argue with the result of his faithfulness.
Your story may not look like you had hoped, but your story is not over. Just take it one step at a time.
If you can look back at this holiday season and with certainty declare that your faith has increased and you are experiencing the blessings of obedience, you too will be highly favored.
If you missed the first, second or third blog in this special Christmas series, you can find it here – Nicely Wrapped – Is your heart an attractive gift to God? , here – The Joy Box and here – The Warrior & Child