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Friday, November 4, 2011

Introducing the Father, Part I: The Choice

I am sorrowfully aware that the childhood of young Sojourner is not shared by every little girl and boy in the world today. Fewer and fewer children, in fact, are being raised by fathers who, truly, care about their well-being—body, soul and spirit. Even when a father is present in the home, he is often distant and sometimes falls into the abusive way of caring for children that he had, himself, experienced. Researchers say that it is a very common phenomenon that those who had abusive fathers will grow up to be abusive fathers to their own children. No good role model, you know. Don't let that be your own story; it doesn't need to be. Sojourner's father grew up in a dysfunctional family and, believe me when I say, he had no good role model from which to pattern his own parenting. He made a choice not to be that kind of father. He worked hard at it by putting his family's needs first, always. He was one of the most selfless men I have ever met! He never preached to his children about the love of God or those do's and don'ts of being a Christian; he just lived the consecrated life before us. It was his choice to be the example he had never seen growing up.

We can look at the life of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, the Son of God, in the bible and see that he, too, made a choice to be what his Heavenly Father wanted him to be regardless of what anyone thought about him or his choices. Joseph's precious first-born son would not even be conceived by him but he was to raise the boy as though he were from his own body. Joseph had to turn aside from the traditional customs to obey the Father. And, what about the Heavenly Father? He was everything, had everything and had no equal in the entire created universe. His Son should have it all, right?! But, Father God had a plan that reached far beyond the lifespan of one boy; a plan for all mankind. The plan for the life of his Son must be carefully orchestrated with perfect timing. It was Father God's choice to stand by and see His plan for mankind played out through the life of His own Son. We can easily see just how different God's thoughts and ways are from our own! This would never have been our plan for the child we loved so much; but, perhaps, that is because we have our sites set too low—on this earthly life, only?

Remember the details as the plan began unfolding on planet earth? The Father's only Begotten Son was, Himself, born to a very poor young couple; the mother a teenager that everyone else thought had become pregnant before she and Joseph could be married. Joseph knew that the baby was not his and that he should just drop the girl, as everyone was urging him to do. However, the real Father of the baby (the Holy Spirit) assured Joseph that Mary was not lying to him. All was in the Heavenly Father's plan and he should take this girl as his wife. Everyone else rejected her and, it is equally likely, that they thought Joe a really dumb guy to believe the girl's protest that she had never slept with any man. She was so despised for the shame she was bringing to the family that Joseph feared for her life. Even though she was about to have the baby, and most wives would not be making the long trip to the place of the family birth records, Joseph had to take Mary to keep her safe when the time for the census was announced. What a long trip on the back of a donkey for the pregnant young woman. It is not at all surprising that she would have the baby very soon after arriving at the destination. The "home delivery" she had been expecting turned out not to be at all as she had planned it. No family midwife, no mother hovering over her to wipe her sweating brow, no loving auntie's arms to receive the new baby and clean him up… only the floor of a barn on which to deliver him and an animal feeding trough for her baby's bed.

One totally amazing part of this story, to me anyway, is that young Mary knew that having the Holy Spirit conceive the baby in her womb would completely change all plans she may have had for her future life with Joseph, the carpenter; that she would be rejected by everyone; and, that nothing she said would be believed about this pregnancy. Nevertheless, Mary agreed to what the angel Gabriel had told her was about to happen! She even knew that the customs would have her fiancĂ© "put her away" and, if they believed that the baby's father was not really Joseph but was already married to someone else, they would even stone her to death. Mary knew all of that and that she was, completely, innocent of all the awful things that people would be saying about her yet she still answered, "I am the Lord's servant… May it be to me as you have said."(Luke 1:38, NIV, 1984) Or, my paraphrase, "Okay, God, if that is what You think is best, I am willing…" Talk about total surrender!

So, what I am trying to point out to you is this: God understands how you feel right now! God understands what it feels like to be misunderstood or falsely accused. God understands what it feels like to not be believed when you really are telling the truth. God understands what it feels like to have parents who struggle to make ends meet each month; parents that the rest of society think are not worthy because they had a baby out of wedlock. God understands what it is like to be that baby growing up under that cloud! Jesus, God's Son, understands because He lived it for thirty-three years. It was not easy and many times it was painful; but, as the Scriptures tell us, God had a plan and this was the plan for Jesus' life on earth from the very beginning. It should be noted here, though, we are only talking about life on earth; that's not all there is to life! That's why we can call this life simply a "sojourn". Things will be equalized following this journey; and, just how depends on the choices made along the way. God is a just God, as well as a loving Father.

****Part II: He Knows You! … Coming Monday

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