Don’t let the title fool you. This article isn’t about BB guns, Chinese food, or someone’s tongue getting stuck on a metal pole. I’d like to talk about the real Christmas story. The one about Jesus.
The story of Mary and Joseph is incredible for a number of reasons. For example, consider how Mary finds out that she is going to have a baby. She’s visited by an angel of the Lord who reveals that she will become pregnant through a divine action. She’s only about 13 years old and is engaged to Joseph who is probably in his late teens. Joseph learns about the pregnancy but initially he doesn’t know about the spiritual intervention.
Therefore, he thinks Mary’s been unfaithful to him because he knows he’s not been with her. He’s left with a tough decision to make. If he accepts Mary’s pregnancy, the community will say that he’s broken the law by sleeping with her prior to marriage. If he publicly divorces her, he runs the risk that she’ll be stoned to death for adultery. Out of compassion, he considers divorcing her privately and not making it a public issue. While he is contemplating his decision, he is also visited by an angel of the Lord who tells Joseph he should go through with the wedding and not be afraid.
When we hear the account of Mary and Joseph, we get the abridged version that skips over the back story. In some ways, what happened to them could happen to any teen today, some 2,000 years later. Perhaps not the heavenly intervention of pregnancy, but a girl gets pregnant by a boy and hard decisions need to be made.
Making decisions is never easy. For parents there are times when making the right choices about your children is next to impossible. If you choose one path, consequences could result that are undesirable. On the other hand, a different decision might eventually lead to that same outcome. Parenting is filled with these kinds of moments.
Mary and Joseph had no control over what was happening in their lives. They had to make decisions based on all the information they had available and then trust in the Lord for the outcome. In order to have peace, they relied on their faith in God.
Who do you trust when you have no control over a situation but need to make a decision? When your children make poor choices that come with tough, lifelong consequences or they turn away from you in a way you never expected, who will you trust? Even after you feel like you’ve made a sound decision, lingering uncertainties can eat away at your confidence and destroy your peace. Who will you rely on?
While 25 plus years of parenting has given my wife Jane and I some confidence in our decision-making skills, we try to make all of our decisions, especially regarding our children, with guidance from the Lord. We make them with the confidence that Jesus Christ is at the center of our lives and His guidance and wisdom through biblical principles is what we need to trust in.
As you hear the Christmas story this season, think beyond the manger and remember the real story that begins with faith, trust, and love. Think about Mary and Joseph who grappled with some very adult situations and made some wise decisions based on their faith in the Lord—the star of the real Christmas story.