Tonight we watched our every-Christmas-must-watch DVD, The Nativity.*
While watching and now as I sit thinking, I am struck by the character of Joseph. He had to be an incredibly strong man. God's choice of Joseph as Mary's husband was no accident. This dear man that God called to be father to Jesus must have been a man of deep faith, strong conviction and steadfast perseverance. Is this why he was chosen?
Mary had an angel visit her and still her road wasn't easy. But, Joseph listened to a dream. A dream. An angel appeared to him in a dream. Not just once, but twice. And both times the angel told him to do HUGE things... the first time to marry a pregnant girl in faith, and second to take this wife, this newborn baby and travel 200 or so miles to Egypt, fleeing in the night.
A dream. He believed and walked forward with faith ...all because of a dream.
Sometimes I am utterly amazed at the faith of these that walk the journey before me. The Abrahams, the Moseses, the Esthers, and the Joesphs... they amaze me. They didn't live in a time when the Spirit of God sealed, indwelt and strengthened. They didn't have the Holy Spirit within them to lead them into all truth. As far as I can see in Scripture, the Spirit came and went at very unique times. And, yet they believed.
I know we are fond of saying they were just ordinary people like me. And, I also know that we so clearly see their mistakes and sins on the pages of Scripture. But, tonight, I am amazed at these, my brothers and sisters, this great cloud of witnesses. And, I want to follow hard after these Marys, these Peters and these Pauls.
I am challenged by the faith of those I see in Scripture that faced death because of belief. I am stirred to awe by the faith of those who have gone before me who loved God more than life... more than wealth, sons, daughters or anything.
When faced with scorn, how do I respond? When faced with death, what would I do? When asked to bow down or be thrown to lions, what would my response be? I don' t know. I really don't know.
Even more challenging, though, is the "what ifs" that have me walk forward in faith. Not just the reactionary do-or-die situations. But, the dreams. The whispers of the Spirit. The visit of an angel.
Am I strong enough to listen to a God-given dream. Am I willing to struggle with neighbor, friend and family because "an angel appeared to me in a dream"? Am I willing to flee in the night, risk safety and health to run because "an angel appeared to me in a dream"?
As I write this, my heart cries out from my deepest parts, Yes! I want to love God that much, be attentive to his voice that much, ...I want to follow Him that faithfully.
Do this in me, dear Father! Make me the one you might choose... make my character strong, my faith secure and my perseverance like Yours.
*For our family, this movie is too intense for my 11 and 8 year old children. In my opinion, this is a fabulous, encouraging, and deeply moving film for adults or older teens.