“Joseph went outside. Too tense to sit, he paced, praying under his breath. He heard Mary moan and paused, listening intently in case she changed her mind and cried out for him. He heard the hay rustling and paced again, staring up at the points of light in the dark sky. He sensed forces gathering around him as though invisible beings had come to witness this event. Angelic or demonic, he didn’t know. Heart pounding, Joseph beseeched God for help and stepped back so that he was standing in the entrance of the cave. The wind came up and for an instant he thought he heard laughter and a dark voice speaking: Do you really believe you can protect them from me?
Joseph fell to his knees and raised his hands to the heavens, where God was upon his throne, and prayed fervently. “You are the Lord our God, the Maker of the heavens and earth. Protect Mary and your son from the one who is trying to destroy them both.”
And he stretched out his hands as though to take the full force of whatever would come against them.
The cold wind stopped and the air around him grew warm again. His heart slowed as he heard the sound of wings… “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. I am with you.”
(A Lineage of Grace, five unlikely women who changed eternity, Francine Rivers, 2001)
I can’t tell you how many times I have got goosebumps from reading this book and especially this particular story and scene. It’s not Christmas until I have FELT christmas, and tonight I put on Amy Grants Christmas Carols, and I sung and imagined just as her songs always make me do. I think of that night, and Francine’s interpretation (and I believe god given) has changed so much of how I imagine this night.
Its more than just a cute set up, its a cold night, it’s night of struggle, promise, intense supernatural movement and mobilization. I see desperation, fear, trust, and love flooding the emotions of Mary and Joseph, who are alone and expecting the arrival of a first baby. Everything they have been through together, the scandal! And now they have to hold on to the promise, they have to trust that Mary and the baby will not perish, despite having no one to attend to her in birth and being in a cave with animals…. and feeling the presence of another realm hovering just outside the entrance.. all to eager to for this event to end in death.
I love the intensity present here in this critical moment. And I think of us now, are you hearing laughter? Is someone mocking your hopes and promises for the future… “Do you really believe you can…”
Is there something your believing for this coming year? Something that you could all to easily talk yourself out of? Because your not good enough? What will people think of you? Because you always start things and then never finish them? Is this just another one of your silly ideas?
Tell that voice to shut up.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. I am with you.”
And listen for the sound of wings.