Joseph’s Story

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Photo by Dan Kiefer on Unsplash

I know Christmas has come and gone, but here’s a snippet of the Nativity story told from Joseph’s perspective, because when does he ever get any attention? 🙂

I tapped on the wooden door five times, eagerness pulsing through my veins. I hadn’t seen Mary in weeks, busy as I was trying to sell my carpentry in Jerusalem. I needed to make enough money for the stones to build the house we would begin sharing in the spring, after our wedding celebrations.

The door opened slowly, revealing Mary’s mother, Hannah, with a pale and withdrawn face as she looked up at me. Sighing, she opened the door wider to let me in. “Come in, Joseph, but prepare yourself…”

I rushed in the house, looking for Mary in earnest, yet concerned by Hannah’s glumness.

I ached at the sight of her gentle figure working the dough on the counter, with her long dark hair wound in a braid behind her. She was so beautiful. When she saw me, her face lit up with a warm glow.

She hurried towards me. “Oh, Joseph…” Suddenly, she dropped her hands to her sides and stared at the dirt floor.

Puzzled, I reached for her small hand. “Mary.” My voice was tighter than I wanted it to be. “I’m sorry I took so long. Jerusalem’s marketplace is competitive.”

“I imagine.” She didn’t look at me, but she squeezed my hand.

I searched her haggard, tear-stained face. My dear Mary. A woman of surpassing beauty… and fierce devotion to the Lord. Whatever was bothering her, I longed to comfort her, to wrap my arms around her and encourage her that everything was going to be all right.

“What’s the matter?” I asked, desperate to understand what she was hiding from me.

She turned her body away. “You wouldn’t believe me.”

“That’s right–and you shouldn’t believe her, for that matter!” Hannah yelled from where she sat across the room, grinding flour with a stone.

Baffled, I spoke hesitantly to my fiancé. “Mary, you’re one of the most trustworthy people I know. What is it that you don’t think I’d believe?”

Smiling feebly, she sank to a chair. “Sit down, Joseph.”

I obeyed, yet eyed her uncertainly.

She tucked a tendril of her thick hair behind her ear. “I’m not sure how to say this, but I… I saw an angel. His name was Gabriel and he told me–”

“–Wait a minute. You saw an angel?” I tried to keep my voice steady, yet I was overcome by the news of this wondrous event.

She nodded meekly.

“An actual angel–straight from God? What did he look like? Did he blind you with heavenly light?”

Mary didn’t even smile. “That’s not the point, Joseph. He told me I was pregnant.”

Her words jolted me out of my humor. I stood up. “You’re what?”

“I’m… I’m pregnant. But it’s not what you think, I–”

“–Mary, you know why I stayed in Jerusalem a week longer? So I could make money for our future together. Our future, Mary!”

I fumed with anger, wanting to set the whole world ablaze. During all those weeks of hard work, she’d been sneaking off with another man. Was I not good enough for her? Mary, sweet Mary… I adored her, but this? This was unacceptable!

I paced the floor, raking my hand through my tousled brown hair.

Mary stood up and pulled on my sleeve. “You don’t understand! I didn’t do anything wrong, Joseph. The angel said–”

“–The stupid angel!” I roared, yanking her hand off my sleeve. “What a pitiful excuse!”

Though I grimaced inwardly at my words, I couldn’t help but feeling betrayed.

Mary fell at my feet and sobbed. “You’re just like the rest of them. I thought I could trust you, Joseph!”

“The whole town is going to think it was a scandal–between you and me!”

“You have to trust me!” Mary cried. “The angel said that I conceived this child by the Holy Spirit. This child is the Messiah, coming to save the world from sin. Do you hear me, Joseph?”

I scowled, hurt that she would make up such a devious lie. “Yeah, I hear you. But your mother’s right–I’d be a fool to believe you!”

I stormed out of the house, trying to make sense of the lies spewing out of dear Mary’s beautiful lips. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t. I couldn’t blind myself from the reality that her display of goodness and love was no more than a false mask, covering a sinful, faithless person. And as I trudged home, tears streamed down my cheeks for the loss of the woman I’d thought I could trust.

***

That night I lay in bed, making plans to secretly divorce Mary in the morning. Continuing on and marrying her was out of the question. Her pregnancy would start to show before we wed, causing rumors to flood the whole town.

I had to admit I had been harsh with Mary. Perhaps spending time with some man was a mistake she regretted, a mistake that would bring a lifetime of shame upon her shoulders.

Whatever the case, her pregnancy would ruin both of our reputations, especially hers. However much she had hurt me, I loved her too much to let her become a disgrace to the town. Though she would probably end up one anyway, breaking off the engagement would at least put some of the rumors to rest.

As I drifted off into a fitful sleep, a voice called out to me in the darkness.

“Joseph, son of David…”

The gentle voice echoed in the night, until before my eyes appeared a shiny figure. An angel? My heart pounded in my chest. For a second I wondered if this was Gabriel, who had supposedly spoken to Mary.

“Joseph, son of David…” I was startled that he knew my name and the name of my much-respected ancestor. “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

I stared at the angel, who illuminated heavenly light, but I did not go blind.

Then I woke up with a start. Sunlight poured through my small open window.

Jesus. The name pounded in my head like a small hope at the end of a tunnel. I was reaching for the light. Oh, Jesus, dear, dear Jesus. The baby boy inside Mary’s womb, the promised One of Israel, the Anointed One–the child… conceived by the Holy Spirit.

This wasn’t Mary’s fault. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. God gave Mary the baby. It was the greatest blessing a person could desire.

I shot out of bed, suddenly wide awake. Mary, my poor, sweet Mary. Regret gripped me for how I had treated her the other day.

I fled out of the house, determined to stand by Mary no matter the cost, along with the infant Messiah that grew within her.

Gabriel’s words taken from Matthew 1:19-21 (NLT).

Let this be a lesson to us– when someone claims they’ve heard from God, take them seriously. God does speak to us even today. And Jesus is the greatest miracle we’ve each been given to discover more and more throughout our lives.

 

 

 

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A Hero for the Highest Cause

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“There’s a real war out there, you know, you mustn’t risk your life.”

She looked up at me with earnestness in her pale cheeks and round opal eyes. Dark brown cascades rippled over her shoulders. She was too pretty a girl to leave, too pretty to run off and risk my life when I could live happily here with her… but no—I could not think of myself. The lives of hundreds of others were at stake. God had gifted me with the capability of healing the sick and wounded, so I had to use it for His glory.

“I understand your fears, Clarisse, but this is a risk I must take for the Lord. I will risk my life to save the people of France and to share with them the mysteries of God’s grace. And I will risk it for you, beloved—by helping others have the strength to fight this war, so you can be free.”

She breathed in my ear. “Oh, Pierre, I would rather be with you in the coldness of this place than flying on the wings of freedom without you.”

Her voice was worn and ragged from years of adversity. She was not innocent of troubles; she was afraid, because she knew well the capacity they had to hurt her.

I clutched her hand tightly and whispered against it. “I am not going to die, my love. Trust me, I am not going to die.”

“You can never be too sure, though. Can’t you think for once of yourself?” she asked quietly. Her heart thudded against me as I drew her shivering frame close and rested my chin on the top of her head. She continued, “You’ve always been caring for the sick and wounded, but someday you will wear yourself out, you will die. Then what will become of me? Perhaps you don’t mind yourself dying, but really, Pierre, what will I do without you?”

Withdrawing from my arms, she stared fixedly up at me, her chin trembling and silent tears dripping down her cheeks. What would she do?

I studied her carefully, as I tucked her soft hair behind her ears. “You are right, Clarisse—I am not one to bother about myself, but it is simply because I have learned that my life is in the hands of God, and His grace is something to be spread like wildfire. That is the only way all the wars of this world will end: by spreading God’s grace that covers all sin to even the most undeserving. So, beloved, do not be afraid if you find out I have been healing the wounds of the enemy. They don’t deserve it, but neither do any of us. And no person can truly live if they are never completely forgiven.”

I gazed down at her glistening eyes and slim shoulders. “And as for you, dear one, God is always with you, even if I die. He loves you and He cares for you—rely on Him, will you, my love? Will you place your life in His hands while I’m gone, and even when I return?”

“I will, Pierre,” she agreed, her face radiant with a new hope. “You are right—God is in control. He will take care of me while you are off healing the dying people of France. He will take care of you as well.” She smiled tenderly. “You are a good man, Pierre.”

Heat poured into my cheeks. I knew I didn’t deserve that praise. And yet her words gave me a more acute awareness of her love for me. How could I leave her? But I had to—but no. But yes. I determined to untangle myself from the mysteries of love, and I fixed my eyes on the ground, my thoughts on God, the One I’d be a most pitiable man without.

“Then now is when we would say farewell, my love.” I kissed her hand lightly, and then hastened out the door with my burlap sack over my shoulder.

“Wait.”

I had to stop. That one word shook me with a feeling so severe I could not make sense of it. If I looked at her one more time, my heart might break from the knowledge of what I had to do. No matter the cost, the pain, no matter how much I loved her—I belonged to the Lord, and it was futile and worthless to think of myself and what I most wanted, when He had a far better plan for me. So I just stood in the doorway with my back to her.

“You will return to me?”

“Yes,” I assured her, “all in the good Lord’s timing. I will come back and marry you. You can be sure of that.” I took another step away.

“Do you promise?” she asked in a small, frail voice.

I looked back at her, just once, for the last time. Her beauty warmed me inside, as it had so many times before.

“Promise?”

Collecting my thoughts, I considered telling her what I felt to say, but the truth ended up prying its way out of my mouth. “I can’t promise my return,” I said frankly. “The French Revolution isn’t an organized war—anything could happen. But I do promise I will try my very hardest.”

She nodded slowly, accepting it. “God be with you, Pierre.”

“And He with you, Clarisse.”

I turned away from her before my emotions could overpower the insistent Spirit within me. I straddled the old mare and set her off down the road, departing the fragile young woman all alone in the cold house. Tears sprung from my eyes as I rode through the snow with the sack full of food, medicine, and blankets.

I hadn’t been completely honest with her. No matter what, I was bound to die through this risky procedure of healing the sick and wounded on the streets of Paris, simply because I didn’t have a weapon. I wouldn’t defend myself, no matter what, even if I did have a musket. I wouldn’t shoot at anyone, because God saw them all as wandering souls in desperate need of a Savior—and He had perfect eyesight. Both my allies and enemies would be healed, and God would be glorified through me. But the French Revolution wasn’t an organized war. The enemy would likely fire at me even if I came to heal them. Indeed, the Spirit within me gave me the sense that this would surely happened, and that my time would soon end. I knew I would never see Clarisse again in that cold little house, and neither would we ever marry. But thank God we’d meet in a big warm one, filled with inexplicable light. There, at least, I was guaranteed to see her again, as a sister in Christ, and in a place where I could breathe free air at last.

As I rode nearer to the deafening sound of the gunshots, I prayed that the lives I saved physically would be saved spiritually through the words the Spirit gave me, and that they would discover the big, warm house as well. But for the first time since I had learned about God’s hand on my life, it took great strength to place my thoughts off myself, and place them on the road in front of me that led to the dying people I would heal. Nevertheless, I forced myself to look through God’s eyes, and see the hurt and suffering of the world. I asked for His strength to think of them and their pain, and to forget about my own. For if I did not look through His eyes and ask for His strength, I would fail. And if I failed to turn to His power, I would die trying to do good on my own—or worse, I would die forgetting the hundreds of lives at stake.

I could not think of myself.

 

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” – Acts 20:24 (NIV)

On The Train

I fondle the yellow marigold between my fingers as the rusty train screeches down the track. The sun shines on me through the dark clouds and through the glass window; the wind pulls my hair out of my face.

“I love you,” says a low, murmuring voice. I turn to the stranger on my right, and then whip my head to the seat behind me.

I shake my head, amused with myself. No one is talking to me. I am alone.

I try to remember when the last time I heard those words was. Too long ago. I’m going home now, to my parents who raised me. But home with them is of one kind, while home with my husband is another. I won’t really be home till I die.

“I love you,” says the voice again.

I grip the marigold, and turn hesitantly to the stranger on my left. “Ma’am…?” I say, my voice breaking.

She is a big woman who is idly knitting a scarf in her lap. “Hmm?”

I give a tight smile. “Did you hear some feller say something?” Continue reading

ABC story

So I tried to write a story with each sentence beginning with the different letters of the alphabet and here’s what happened. I’m not sure if it’s historically correct, but oh well…

A flash of lightening streaked across the night sky. Bethany shuddered, but kept running through the darkness, cold wind caressing her dark brown hair. Catching her breath, she stopped in front of an old, crumbling stone wall. “Danger on the other side,” she remembered the guard’s stern warning. “Everyone who has gone there has never returned.Frank just doesn’t understand, she told herself. God only knows what I’ve gone through, why I have to leave. He’s the only one who’s ever known anything about me; without him I’m alone—completely, totally, and utterly alone. I have to leave, I have to escape this foreboding place and find my family. Just as she set her foot on a stone crevice and started climbing, the light of a torch burned brightly in her eyes. Continue reading

The Beginning Of My “Keira” Novel

Ten-year-old Dee-Dee sunk beside me on the hot sand, torn from exhaustion. I lay beside her, knowing for a fact that I was more worn out than she. Besides that her middle-school nature caused her to chat on and on about who-cares-what, I had an extra burden that she didn’t have: guilt. The guilt was the reason I was here, but I was the reason for the guilt. Dee-Dee’s endless energy and pestering questions only made it worse. Continue reading

An Excerpt From My Viking Novel

One morning I awoke to find Erik missing from his usual place by the fire, flopped on his belly with his blanket over his head. He just wasn’t there. So I yawned and stretched my sore muscles, and then took a good look around. Of course, due to the fog, it wasn’t easy. I was thankful when I heard a familiar voice by where I knew the river we followed was. The voice was familiar, but not the language it was speaking. I couldn’t understand it at all. Continue reading

Memories and Pearls

Here is my first post, a short story I wrote a few months ago about life, the ocean, memories, and pearls.

She stood in the sand. She didn’t know why, but she just stood there, unmoving. Gently, the cool tide washed over her bare feet. The wind blew back her hair, the sun embraced her with warmth. Over and over, the sea rushed forward and back, forward and back, salt and sand caught up in its current. Her feet oozed in the wet sand, sinking further and further as the ocean fell into a tossing rhythm over her ankles, and then, gradually, over her knees. She stood motionless, lost in some enchantment. Continue reading