Christmas and the Unknown by Lisa Burkhardt Worley

Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.‘ (Luke 1:30–31, NKJV)

God often calls us into the unknown, and when he does, Mary and Joseph from the Christmas story provide an excellent example of how to navigate uncharted territories.

When Mary was informed by the angel Gabriel that she would give birth to the Christ child, she didn’t have a book to help her like What to Expect When Expecting the Messiah, nor did she understand what this calling on her life would entail. After receiving the news she simply believed, and said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38, NKJV).

Meanwhile, Joseph, troubled by Mary’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy, was going to break off their engagement until Gabriel let him in on God’s plan as well. In a dream Gabriel delivered the news to Joseph saying, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21). That was enough for Joseph to move forward with the marriage and raise Jesus like a son. However, this act of obedience still represented a leap of faith. Joseph could have ignored the dream or could have disbelieved because something like this had never happened before.

How many times have you received an unorthodox calling but you were afraid to move forward? Maybe you are in that place of hesitancy now.

Mary and Joseph modeled how we are to respond when called to journey into a new place. Often God will confirm the call, just as He did with them. While Gabriel may not make a house call, the Lord could give us a dream, or multiple confirmations through a variety of sources. However, after the initial tug we rarely receive an intricate step-by-step manual. That is where faith comes in. God wants us to trust that He will provide the necessary information and provision as needed.

When we are in the midst of the unknown, there should be no fear because God is with us through His Holy Spirit. Mary and Joseph understood that as Immanuel was literally with them. With God incarnate being raised in their home, Mary and Joseph’s house was probably the most peaceful on the block. And we can have peace in the unknown as well if we trust.

What about you? What is preventing you from answering your call into the unknown? What can you learn from Mary and Joseph’s story?

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’ (Isaiah 30:21).

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