Recently I have been pondering what kind of life I am supposed to be leading. This contemplation has led me to the conclusion that if I am to emulate anyone it should be Jesus. Jesus is the only perfect man to ever walk the Earth, and I would guess he would be the ideal candidate for a role model. Having grown up in the church and read a lot of the Bible; I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of who Jesus was when he was here on Earth. I know about him as a child. I remember stories of his miracles. I am familiar with the death, burial, and resurrection. However, I also am exceedingly aware that I can always learn more.
There is a quote from Albert Einstein that says, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” I can see evidence of this in my own life, and it is the reason that I firmly believe in being an ever growing and ever changing person. I don’t ever want to arrive at a place where I cannot be taught any thing else. I never want someone to be able to rightly accuse me of being stuck in my ways and beliefs just because that is the tradition that I have always existed in.
I have begun re-reading the gospels because I want to better acquaint myself with the life of Christ. This isn’t to say that the rest of the Bible isn’t important, but if I am to model myself after the one who is perfect I should know as much as I can about him. Today my study was in Matthew chapters one and two.
The first thing that struck me was how familiar the story of Jesus’ first few years of his life is to me. It was hard to stay engaged in the story because I felt like I already knew how it turned out. (this is a whole different issue – #christianschoolproblems) The second thing that struck me was how God the Father continually provided direction to Mary and Joseph throughout the entire first two chapters. He protected them without fail. The final thing that really hit me was at the very end of Chapter two. Joseph is afraid to go where God has told him to go, but that ultimately ends up fulfilling prophecy that God has given.
This last point is what I really want to hit on, mostly because it is what I learned that is new to me. I don’t ever remember reading or hearing this part of the story. In verse 20 of chapter 2 God told Joseph to “rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” King Herod had died. There was no more threat and God was saying it was safe to go home. This part of the story does not have many details beyond that, but it does say that Joseph was afraid to go back because of things he had heard.
At first glance this was crazy to me. My first instinct was to yell at Joseph. “Don’t you remember that a few verses ago God protected you?! How are you already doubting him?!” I looked at that moment in Joseph’s life and can’t understand how God hasn’t fulfilled his burden of proof to Joseph. My next though snaps back to the Old Testament and all the times that God provided for the Israelites. God would provide for them in one moment and the next they would be worried or complaining about what was next. Finally, I flash forward to my own life and I am hit with the realization that we as followers of God have not changed one little bit.
God provided 17,000 dollars in donations for me in 8 months to go on the World Race, but I still sometimes worry that he won’t provide for the dreams that I have to own a house so that I can adopt and foster kids. God has (countless times) provided me with solid community where I can thrive, but anytime I am going into a new situation I begin to worry that I won’t find that community that I love. I continue to doubt God. He proves himself to me over and over and over again, and yet I still doubt. I still fear. I still worry.
Fear, worry, and anxiety is mentioned hundreds of times in the bible. When I am in the midst of this fear and anxiety, I am telling God that I don’t trust him. I am saying that it doesn’t matter that he has provided burden of proof not only to me, but also to Christians throughout the decades. I am ignoring his provision and focusing on the problem.
The good news in all of that, is despite Joseph’s fear – and taking his family Nazareth instead of Judea – prophecy was fulfilled. Despite the Israelites complaining, fear, and lack of trust God still called them his chosen people and led them into the promise land.
I am so glad that God doesn’t only call those to do his work who are qualified. My lack of trust in him would be enough to disqualify me from any sort of work he would have me do. Instead he uses us in our shortcomings to fulfill his plan. That doesn’t excuse me from working to lead the life he would has for me, but it does take some of the pressure off.