you ever been homesick? I mean, really homesick? I can remember one occasion in
my life when I was homesick.
was when I was seventeen years old. I had arrived at Carson Newman College as
an incoming freshman. I was excited about the prospects of being on my own and
away from home. After the initial excitement of moving into the dormitory and
meeting my roommate, I remember sitting in a third floor window of Alumni Dormitory
and thinking to myself how much I would like to load the truck and head home.
“What in the world had I gotten myself into?” It would have been much
easier to load up and go back home. But, as often is the case, the easiest thing
to do is not always the best thing to do.
you imagine Joseph’s thoughts as he made his home in Egypt? The last year or so
in his life had been difficult. He and Mary had married in the midst of a scandal.
After all, their story was hard to believe. A pregnant virgin?
a dream, God told Joseph to marry Mary. She was going to have a child that would
be the Savior of the world. Imagine that! At some level, I wonder if Joseph
didn’t feel used? Here was a man known for doing the right things in his life
and now he was thrust into a situation that was beyond his reasoning capabilities.
The right thing, it appeared, would be to quietly divorce Mary and move on with
his life. But he soon found out that he must follow the God of his dream, even
if it meant feeling used.
feeling of being used is not pleasant. Often it leads to bitterness and apathy.
Perhaps you are a woman who feels used by the world. You may feel that you are
only an appendage to your husband or your children. You are only seen as a functionary
in the house, not as a person. Maybe you’re a man who feels used like Joseph.
Everyone around you is abusing your success. Your wife only sees you as a bread
winner. Maybe you have experienced being used at work. You’re the one who operates
the machine, or writes the check, or answers the phone. If you don’t do it, there
is someone else waiting in line who can. Feeling used is unpleasant. I wonder
if Joseph ever felt like that?
instead of feeling used, Joseph felt useful. This seems to be apparent in
his attentiveness to God. He was ready to obey God’s unpredictable spirit. When
Joseph heard God say, “Get up,” Joseph got up. We need to learn to listen
like Joseph listened.
to God is essentially what praying is, and Joseph knew how to listen to God speak
in his life. Even his dreams were not out of bounds for God to speak to him. Joseph
listened to God, especially in the testing times of his life.
Herod plotted his deeds, the Lord guided Joseph. Herod was already infamous for
his paranoid tendencies. He was certainly threatened by this child of Mary and
Joseph’s. Joseph’s blood must have run cold when he heard of the Magi’s visit
with Herod and his questions. In a dream, God gave guidance to Joseph to take
his family to Egypt Joseph and his family fled to Egypt, and not a moment too
stayed in Egypt until the word came of Herod’s death. Again God guided Joseph
to return home.
there is one more thing we can count on: We can depend on God to bring redemption
out of crisis. One cannot read the account and not be struck by the fact that
not only did Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus escape but that there were also some
innocent babies slaughtered by a paranoid dictator. There it is – the enigma
of life, the great contradiction!
life seems so capricious and senseless. Why are there Herods and Hitlers, and
Stalins and Bin Ladens? Why are there not only our good, warm, loving selves but
also the dark, brooding, violent selves that sometimes take over our beings? What
meaning can there be in the safety of Jesus when so many other children died?
Sayers states that: “God had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine.
The rules he created were kept by Him as well. He, himself, has gone through the
human experience. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace, and thought it
died, and his kingdom was divided. The child survived, but did not escape the
powers of evil. He was crucified to redeem the very evil that twisted the hearts
of the men who drove the nails. And out of it, he brought resurrection and redemption,
not just for himself, but for the whole world, we included. Herod and the forces
of evil did not have the final word. And they will not in our crisis either. As
a result, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.
you ever been homesick before? Really homesick? I have. In fact, I am right now.
But here I am. Here you are, following the God of our dreams.
brief provided by: David Tullock, Pastor, First Cumberland Presbyterian
Church, Cleveland, TN