When I was a kid, my sister and I made it a fine art to hunt out our Christmas gifts. We knew just when Mama wouldn’t be looking and we went on the prowl for her special “hiding” places for our presents. I can remember one particular year I hit the jackpot and scored the Barbie stage and a Flintstone racetrack. Mind you, I had asked for a more “boy-like” racetrack…matchbox cars flying around a loopy racetrack, but I got the Flintstone one, and we all know that Fred and Wilma didn’t crank the car up, but pedaled with their FEET! Nonetheless, it was a racetrack and I was happy…happy that my pursuit of finding my gifts was successful. Finding my gifts before Christmas became something that I was very good at, but I was probably better at the cover-up. When Mama would ask us if we had been in her closet, or if we’d found anything, I could’ve probably won an Academy Award for my performance of denial…”Ummmm…..no, Mama, of course not.”
Back in the day, Joseph and I had a lot in common. I can only imagine the times that he answered questions about his gift, his bride, Mary and felt he had to cover things up. “Is Mary gaining weight, Joseph? Oh my…Is she pregnant,” to which Joseph would reply…”Ummmmm….no, of course not.” Matthew 1:19 even says this about Joseph…
Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.
I know the feeling, Joseph! Even as a kid in potential trouble, I still didn’t want my Mama to think I wasn’t a stellar child…you know, ruin my good kid image. It even goes on to say in verse 20 that Joseph was trying to figure a way out, all while maintaining his own good image. But, as an angel comes to Joseph in a dream and explains that Mary is carrying the Son of God, that this is a Spirit-conceived pregnancy, and he should still marry her. Joseph woke up and did just what the angel told him to do. He married Mary and cared for her and loved her despite what, most likely became, a barrage of questions!
For a lot of us, the comparisons in our troublesome situations probably stop there. We don’t always wake up the next day and do the right thing because, in our minds, it would still cost us too much. Sometimes it’s just easier to maintain the cover-up. If people only knew our secrets, our poor choices and where they’ve led us, and those things we’ve really done there’s no telling what they would think of us. And goodness knows, if people really knew us they wouldn’t like us, much less listen to a thing we have to say. We wish we could be like Joseph and eventually not listen to what everyone thinks and just do the right thing. When we did, yes, it might uncover the greatest gift of all, like it did for Joseph and Mary. I mean, the Messiah? If Joseph had chosen to still remain in the cover-up, the Messiah would have still come, a Savior would’ve saved the world. But Joseph didn’t remain hidden. He became a part of the story, rather than miss out on it. Why was it so important he be in the story? Because we needed to identify with Joseph all these years later. We needed someone to show us courage that we, too, don’t have to remain hidden. God wants us…the ones who’ve made poor choices, who’ve been pregnant before marriage, who’ve been addicted to drugs, who’ve been mean and hateful to others…yes, US, to tell others that we’ve listened to God and we’ve woken up the next day and obeyed. We left behind the charade and stopped pretending. We decided to let our story be told because someone needs to follow our model of courage despite what others think. We worry we wouldn’t have the right words or if anyone would even listen, when it’s really that those watching are looking to see if our actions will match our words. Do you know that remaining in the cover-up is hiding the message that the angel spoke to Joseph?
“She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus-‘God saves’-because he will save his people from their sins.”
A simple carpenter. A man of integrity. A bride with a secret. A common man. Not a whole lot different than you and me! Life can take a turn. Our stories may change. They may go from good to bad, but there’s always the opportunity to uncover redemption. Redemption is always there. The Redeemer is always present. There’s always a listener…a watcher…that is waiting to hear that Jesus Saves. Jesus Saves. Jesus saves. Isn’t it about time you stop hiding?