faith journey

Joseph’s Journey

“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” Matthew 11:24 NIV

Like everybody who says “yes” to God, Joseph could not begin to comprehend the implications of such a divinely inspired decision. Unknowingly he was signing up to embark on a sacred journey of trust into uncharted territory. Not unlike Bilbo Baggins answering Gandolf’s invitation in The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey, it would take Joseph places he could never have imagined going, both in the natural and more importantly within his own soul. Had he or Bilbo known what the journey held in store, they would probably have stuck with their initial “No.”

Joseph’s acquiescence must have led to great anticipation as he and Mary settled into life together in his home and prepared for the birth of the child. Undoubtedly he was breathing a sigh of relief thinking the “big” decision was now behind him. He was surely enjoying the new found sense of peace and freedom from the recriminations of initially feeling betrayed by Mary.

Answering God’s call ultimately bids us to venture beyond the comforts and predictability of home. And unlike Lot’s wife we had best accept that eventuality right now; as there is no profit in lingering or looking back. Unbeknownst to Joseph, nearly 1500 miles away in Rome, a decree was being issued that would subsequently make its way by courier to his little village of Nazareth at the far eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea.

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Stressed? Where to look for help.

“My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1 NIV)

I have been battling some stress lately, feeling deluged with last minute details for an upcoming event in which I have some major responsibilities. It dawned on me this morning that the stress was having a cumulative effect upon me. I had to acknowledge that I had been trying to carry things in my own strength rather looking with eyes of faith to God who is the burden bearer. Consequently fear and anxiety were robbing me of my peace during the day and my sleep at night. Perhaps you can identify with me.

Basically what I realized was that I had been looking in the wrong places for answers and help. It reminded me of the man in Psalm 121 who had a similar revelation in his journey through a trying time. As I read this psalm it helped me get back into a place of faith as I focused on where real help comes from.

Psalm 121 is the second one in a series of 15 psalms called the Psalms of Ascent or the Pilgrim Psalms. These psalms, from 120 through 134, were written describing the pilgrimage each Israelite was required to make annually to Jerusalem to worship at the great feasts. They were songs the pilgrims sung, journeying from their respective towns and villages, climbing steadily through the Judean hills and valleys, battling adversity both from within and from without, ever looking for a glimpse of Mount Zion where they would eventually enter God’s presence in the temple courts.

These psalms are also descriptive of the spiritual journey that each of us must make in order to grow in our faith relationship with God. Spiritual growth can only begin when we acknowledge the mess our souls are in, our need for change and the necessity of looking to God as the change agent.

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