Monday, April 23, 2012

The Other Joseph with Dreams

For my novel Justice, I've been paying attention to Joseph, the man who acted as an earthly father to Jesus. I was surprised to find that few verses mention him. I was also surprised that at the core of his role in Christ's birth and upbringing are dreams. He has four of them. The most famous, of course, being the one where he's told to marry Mary despite what appeared to be the ultimate sign of unfaithfulness: an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Joseph also had a dream that he needed to get his family to Egypt to protect them from King Herod's killing rampage. The next dream came after Herod died; it was safe to return home. Well, relatively safe. The final dream we're told about is the one where he's given a warning and goes to Nazareth instead of Judea.

The thing that gets me about Joseph and his dreams is that there appears to be no time of indecision, no matter how big a step the dream calls him to make. For example, Matthew 1:24 says, "When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife" (NLT). Then, Matthew 2:14, the verse immediately following the one where Joseph was told Herod was out to kill Jesus, says, "That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother."

When he woke up.

That night.

Wouldn't most of us shake off a thing like a dream and say, "Nah. That couldn't be true. That's just wishful thinking. I'm just worked up. My subconscious is playing tricks on me."

I'm not suggesting that every dream is a word from God. So, how did Joseph know his dreams were from God? The first time we meet Joseph in Matthew 1:19, we learn that he "was a good man" who was concerned about disgracing Mary. Can you imagine finding out your fiancee was going to have a child with someone else and being concerned about disgracing her? So he had mercy, and was good. I have to believe that those are also fruits of a long term, committed relationship with God that had him practicing his faith long before he took God at his dreams.

It's my goal to be connected with God to the point that I will recognize and respond when he gives me direction, whether it's through a dream or a person or a thought or a feeling or an experience.

When was the last time you knew what God wanted you to do and did it immediately?

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