Two things got me thinking yesterday…
After a fantastic steak and eggs for Father Day (thanks Maddi and Sophie), we went to church. It was a little different to our normal church service, we sat around and chewed over the story of Joseph discovering he was about to be a step dad.
I’d never really stopped to think about what it meant for a man like Joseph to hear that his fiancé was pregnant. Then, on top of that she was spouting some story about it being from God. We were invited to put ourselves in his shoes and imagine what that moment might have meant. I guessed he felt a mixture of anger, betrayal, pain and impotence. I was interested that he immediately tried to work out a plan to deal with things quietly, to make the mess go away. I identified with Joseph. So often I find myself in a place of mess, where things are happening that I don’t think should happen, and I want to fix them.
The fact that Joseph had a dream that told him the truth didn’t actually make his life any easier… He now had to face the shame of everyone thinking he had sex with his fiancé before they were married, and had to cope with the idea that his first child wouldn’t even be his. My guess is that the big family celebration he had planned became a hurried “shotgun” wedding with only a few close friends, if that.
This is the context in which God chooses to come to earth. He doesn’t make it simple, in fact his arrival causes both Mary and Joseph great hardship. Sometimes I wonder whether it was a bit convenient that the census required them to go to Bethlehem, I wonder whether having the baby away from the local gossip was actually part of the motivation for the long trek.
The other thing that got me thinking last night, was a line from a movie “the Way”, which we enjoyed greatly. Early on in the movie, Emilo Eestevez says to Martin Sheen, “You don’t choose a life, you live one.” I love the John Lennon Lyric “Life is what happens when you are making other plans.”
I have written in the past about a realisation I had a few years ago about the number of times I spoke about “getting there”, and “there” was a mystical place where things were somehow easier, neater and more enjoyable.
I think I am again needing to face the part of me that wants to be in control, that sees that somehow God is there in order and not there in chaos. I am starting to wonder whether it might actually be easier to find God in the mess of real life rather than in the neat and tidyness of any plans I might have. Life is messy, and the more I hang out with Jesus, the more I find him taking me into the mess and not out of it. I’m not sure what I think about that, I just know it seems to be true.
I know that somehow if I can hang on to Jesus in the midst of it all, I start to see some meaning, and even a pattern in the mess, but if I try to “tidy it up” I find myself heading in absolutely the wrong direction.
I think I’ll keep thinking….