Walking the Thin Line

Joseph, her fiance, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. ~ Matthew 1:19

Imagine that you're a young man about to get married to a young woman.  In today's world, you can decide to get engaged or even "hitched" in a matter of minutes on a whim to anyone you want.  In Joseph and Mary's world, marriage was not entered into lightly.  First, the families talked and came to an agreement.  Then when the time was deemed right, a public announcement of your intention to marry was made.  At this point, you were engaged, but it wasn't like being engaged in our day.  If you were a young Jewish couple, being engaged meant that except in cases of death or divorce, you were committed to each other, but you were still not doing married people things.  Eventually, you would be married, but from my understanding (which is shallow, I'll admit, as my understanding is second-hand from Father McCloud's sermon on Sunday - at some point, maybe I'll look into the process more), but the date depended on, of all things, the talk about town.  The bride-to-be would be focused on becoming a good wife and when she was ready word would get back to the groom and then the process would move forward.  Something tells me their divorce rate was probably pretty low.

Today we see a lot of couples who get married when the young lass is with child or, in some cases, after there are a few little tots running around.  The stigma that was once upon children who did not have married parents has waned significantly, it seems and no surprise given the whole sexual revolution thing, but the why by the cow when you can get the milk for free topic isn't today's focus.  In Joseph and Mary's Day, though, if you were a young lady engaged to be married or the young man engaged to that young lady, you were asking for trouble....and if you knew you weren't the father, well, you probably would want to clear your name and distance yourself post haste!

That's where we find Joseph in our first focus verse.  He's just learned that Mary, to whom he is  engaged is with child.  It doesn't directly say that he's aware at this point that the Holy Spirit is the father, but I think we might gather that his reaction to break the engagement (to divorce her) quietly that he's been informed of this very odd set of circumstances and doesn't want to be in this mess, but also isn't keen on having this girl whom he wants to believe, stone to death (because the Jewish authorities could do just that!).  

Somehow, Joseph manages to get to sleep after mulling this bit of crazy over and get a surprise visit from an angel of the Lord who tells him that Mary isn't crazy - she really has been impregnated by the Holy Spirit and God wants Joseph to marry her, be the child's earthly father and name him Jesus.

        Photo by Mark Duffel on Unsplash

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. ~ Matthew 1:24

What really struck me about this passage is Joseph readily obeyed. He did the right thing without worrying about what other people were going to think of him because you have to guess that some people in the community were like "Uh huh, sure Mary is carrying the Holy Spirit's baby - you sly dog, you!" but in that day, it wasn't a compliment.  He and Mary both were now seen as horrible sinners and they had a lot of eyes looking down a lot of noses straight at them.  He and she were humbled...and they hadn't done anything wrong.  He had obeyed God and going into it he knew his reputation was at stake...even so, he did the right thing....he trusted God and his plan.  He stepped up to take care of Mary and raise Jesus as his own despite the earthly consequences because he knew that, if he only obeyed, God would bless him.

All this back story is for a purpose today....a day where my sweet little boy (who truly is not little at all) started sixth grade.  It isn't my parenting time, but I trotted over to the school to wish him well on his first day.  It was a good opportunity to see how the ride over would be in the morning and to ensure that the school officials had my contact information.

Getting to sixth grade was not as simple as it should have been for the kiddo.  His dad and I have been "discussing" where he should go in earnest since January or February...I honestly can't remember.  Ultimately, his dad and I found ourselves in a place where someone was going to have to give or we were going to be going back to court which kind of is like a box of chocolates - you bite in thinking you're going to get a vanilla cream and then, well, it's something else.  I ultimately ended up being the one to budge knowing that the money I would throw at my legal team to get the kiddo into the school he and I thought would be best could be spent in better ways on him/us.  I'm trusting God to handle the school stuff, but going with dad's favorite brings another wrinkle.  The breaks for this particular school district are vastly different.  

I had hoped we would have a plan for handling them that was fair and equitable in place before the first day of school, but that isn't the case and yet, I still let my child attend today (I didn't have to) because it is what is best for our child.  In divorce, I think we sometimes lose sight of the fact that there are many good outcomes that we can choose from.  Sometimes, the thing you want for your child is a hill worth dying on...sometimes, it probably isn't.  Are you listening to the voice of God as you're pursuing your "victory?"  Do you have a desire to win to show your child's other parent that you are in control?  Are you paying attention to whether you feel peace about the thing you're fighting for or is there something about it that, if you're honest, does concern you?  I had a few and I still have a few about the school he's now attending...perhaps more than a few, but fighting definitely isn't what is best for him (or, frankly, any of the adults in this situation) and so here we are at a new school in a new district with a new break schedule that still isn't ironed out and that I am praying will not result in a bunch of additional drama as we figure out the best way to handle it (I'd love it if you'd pray for this situation, too!).

The one thing I know is whatever happens, God has His hands in this and He loves our not-so-little boy more than I am even capable of loving him.  So even if this school isn't the best one for him, I'm going to trust that God will align everything in the kiddo's favor.  And, even if his dad decides not to be a team player when it comes to the breaks, God will, somehow, work all that out, too, when we obey him, when we trust him to work out all the details.  Let's pray.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your steadfast love for us and for our children.  We thank you that you are faithful and always are working for our good and for the good of our children.  We entrust our lives and our children's lives to you, Lord.  We ask that you would open our eyes when we're fighting on a hill that may be wonderful but isn't worth dying on.  We ask that you would convict us when we're arguing because we want to feel in control.  We ask that you would soften our hearts and our former spouses' hearts, and the hearts of any others who are involved or involving themselves in the decisions we make for our children and their future.  Let us all desire to work together.  Let us all put off unrighteousness and live upright in your truth.  Let us love each other as your children even though we can all be quite unlovable at times.  Surround us with your peace and protection and guide us with your wisdom.  Keep the enemy far from us and from our children and when he tries to sneak in and scheme, open our eyes to his attempts to sow discord, confusion and other negativity.  Let the outcome of any situation we might be dealing with today be to your glory and for our ultimate good.  All this we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.


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