Joseph was an honest, thoughtful man.
Joseph had a plan for his life - a reasonable, rational, common-sense plan that included basic things like career and family.
Then the plan imploded.
He found out that his fiancée — kind, sweet, strong Mary — was pregnant. All Joseph knew was that the baby wasn’t his. Imagine the shock and sadness. The Bible doesn’t give many details, but based on what we know about Joseph, he likely prayed about the situation, asking God for guidance, comfort, and truth.
We do know that Joseph was a good man — so good, in fact, that he didn’t want to disgrace Mary even though he was probably very hurt and upset.
So Joseph devised a new plan for his life — a plan that was reasonable, rational, common-sense, and very selfless.
Rather than dragging Mary into the courts or before religious leaders (which was a standard response in that ancient world) he instead planned to break his engagement quietly so that Mary’s reputation would be protected as much as possible.
Then along came an angel who upended Joseph's plans yet again.
"New plan, Joseph. God actually wants you to do just the opposite of your current plan. Even though it doesn't seem reasonable, rational, or common-sense.”
Turns out Mary was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. Turns out Mary was pregnant with the promised Messiah. Turns out Mary’s miraculous pregnancy — which wasn’t at all part of Joseph’s plan — was at the very center of God’s plan.
“Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife,” said the angel. This wouldn’t have sounded like a reasonable, rational, or common-sense plan. Imagine all the things that might have run through Joseph’s mind: What will people say? What will people think? How will I handle the heavy responsibility of helping Mary to parent and raise God’s son?
In the end, we’re told that “Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded.” He knew God could be trusted, and he believed that God’s plan — no matter how unexpected or different from his own — was best.
When God nudges you to do something that's the opposite of what you planned, will you trust him? Will you believe this he is always right and he is always good?
How have you responded when things don’t go as planned?
What is one way God is asking you to trust and obey him?
Read the scripture passage for a Christmas story about humble obedience.