Please join us over the next several days as we journey through this Advent season. We will be hearing from many of our City Church staff as well as members of the congregation as we all ponder the mysteries of this season. Today’s contribution comes from City Church member, Jan George.
Every year at Christmas time, I love to have Christmas music constantly playing! I listen in the car and on the Holiday stations on the Pandora app in my home. Of course, I love all the traditional Christmas songs, but the song I am always listening for and hoping to hear is the 20-year-old Christian song called, “A Strange Way to Save the World.” It is written from the perspective of Joseph. Here is the chorus that resonates with me:
"Why me, I’m just a simple man of trade?
Why Him, with all the rulers of the world?
Why here, inside this stable filled with hay?
Why her, she’s just an ordinary girl?
Now, I’m not one to second guess what angels had to say
But this is such a strange way to save the world."
Over the course of my adult life when I have asked God in my prayers the “Why?” question, I always recall this song. Joseph and Mary must have wondered and asked “Why” also when God let them in on the plan to send Emmanuel, His Son, to earth to rescue the world from sin.
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do no fear to take Mary as you wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save his people from their sins.”
I think I would have had a similar response as the song imagines, “Why God? Why me? This is such a strange way to save the world!”
Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, might have doubted God’s plan to save people from their sins.
He might have thought it was too much to ask of a single man betrothed to a young woman. He might have thought, “This IS a strange way to save the world!”
But he obeyed.
Matt 1:24: “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.”
His obedience led to the front row seat and life’s privilege of being an earthly father, to God incarnate, Emmanuel. The Word in flesh who still needed an earthly “Daddy” to protect, defend, teach and guide.
I’ve asked God a lot of “Why” questions over the years.
Why did my friend die so young leaving behind a family?
Why do you think I’m capable of raising a special needs child?
Why do we have to move again?” And on and on it goes.
Especially, at Christmas, I try to remember God uses every-day, ordinary people to bring about His plans, just like He used Mary and Joseph. In fact, believers are the ways and means that God accomplishes His work on earth. He uses our hands, our feet, our eyes, our mouths, our creativity to advance His message of love for all people. Even though I might doubt His plan or my abilities, similar to how the song imagines Joseph must have surely felt, can I still trust that God’s plans are better than my own? Do I obey when He asks something of me?
So, when God is on the move and asks of you something that feels monumental and your first question is “Why me?” how can you take comfort knowing that His plans are better? As Jeremiah 29:11-12 says, “For I know the plans, I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope for a future.”
God intervened in Jospeh and Mary’s lives and they were forever changed. Their obedience to His plan shows us that God will provide the endurance, strength and peace to accomplish what He asks. How would our lives radically change if we stepped out in obedience and faith, when God asks of us something that seems unusual, strange, or even impossible?