Where the Hell was Joseph?

It’s a question that bothers me and literally drives me to tears every single year.

I know the question of where Joseph was isn’t nearly as important as the rest of the story that Friday, but as a Daddy, it drives me crazy…the not knowing.

So I sent that question to multiple friends this morning via text and here are the responses:

  • “Men are wimps.”
  • “He may have had to work 2nd shift during the documentary.”
  • “Dead?  IDK never thought about that.”
  • “You mean Mary’s baby’s daddy?  I often wonder that too…”
  • “It was Friday, a workday.  He was a carpenter, so making crosses?”
  • “It’s odd that he’s not mentioned.  He’s not mentioned anywhere after the birth of Christ.  Add that to the bucket list of things to ask when we get there.”
  • “He got tired of all the angels showing up at weird hours.  He got a room at the local Motel 6.”
  • “Joseph gets a lot of publicity at Christmas; not much at Easter.”
  • “Men can’t take the heat.”
  • “Maybe he was a loser Dad….he must not have been…Jesus turned out pretty good!!!”
  • “Some think he had already died before the crucifixion.  Proof that bad things happen to good people, even favored people, even God’s son’s people.”
  • “He was kickin some back bc his kid got killed.”

I have some brilliant friends, some sick friends, some hilarious friends, and some friends with thoughts that pierce my heart. 

Maybe the question of where Joseph was isn’t as important as where I would have been on that day.  Would I have been “the Disciple that Jesus loved”?  Would I have been the one entrusted with the care of the mother of the Son of God?  Would I have been hiding?  My friend Dean said, “…an annunciation sounds cool when you read about it, but it’s a real drag when you’re actually there.  One gets tired of cowering and averting one’s eyes.” 

Maybe the question of “where would I have been?” isn’t even as important as another question.

What do I do with the information that I have now?

I wasn’t there.

Neither were you.

We weren’t witnesses to the facts.  We didn’t see him hanging there.  We didn’t hear his groanings.  We didn’t see the trail of blood down the Via Dolorosa.  We didn’t hear the cracks of the whip and we didn’t feel the earthquake or shudder at the sounds of lightning and thunder.  We weren’t there for the murder of Jesus Christ, but we are recipients of the very same Grace that those who were there received.

The fact is that Jesus Christ did die on a Cross a couple thousand years ago.  The fact is that He died for me.  The most important question is “what now?”

What now?

Now that I know His grace is willing to cover my messiness, what am I going to do about it?

Will I still run and hide from it?  Is it still too humiliating?  Is it still too uncomfortable?  Too…unbelievable?  Is it still too messy for me?  I’m certainly not too messy for him.

I don’t know where Joseph was, but where are you?

  • Are you hiding outside the walls?
  • Are you weeping at the Cross?
  • Are you running away from Golgotha?
  • Are you running towards Jesus?

It’s Good Friday. 

The day the world stopped turning. 

Thank You, Jesus, for what You did.  I can’t imagine what His best friends must have been thinking that day.  I can’t comprehend what His Momma was experiencing that Friday.  I don’t know where Joseph was. I certainly doubt that any of them would have called it a “good” day, but the joy that has come from it, the freedom that I now walk in, the Comforter that has come now to be with us–to be with me as I woke up that day in a hospital bed–the forgiveness that we have all been granted because of the Hell that Jesus went through, the mercy that we have received, the grace that we are bathed in because of His suffering: it makes it one very Good Friday for me.  Thank You, Jesus, for loving me.  Thank You, God, for loving us enough to let Him go.

–Steve

#GraceIsMessy

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Splash in the Puddles

Good ol’ Alabama weather: gotta love it!

You really just never know.  I’m sure folks in other parts of the Deep South feel the same way, but let me give you an example…Saturday and Sunday, I had a photo shoot each day.  I wore shorts and t-shirts each day and was as comfortable as could be.  Sunday, I was even sweating a little.  It was warm, but the weather was picture perfect for this photographer!

And then Monday showed up…

It rained all night Sunday night and into Monday.  I wore long pants and a pullover to work on Monday.  Today it’s even colder.  But the rain–oh my gosh–it rained so much!

A friend of mine posted a couple of pictures on Facebook Monday with this as the caption, “I just want to splash in the puddles!”

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It gave me pause.

Isn’t life so much like our infamous Alabama weather?

We’re rolling along, whistling, “Zip-a-dee-doo-da-zip-a-dee-aye-my-oh-my-oh-what a wonderful day!” and then all of a sudden, the bottom falls out.

Crash!

Boom!

Bang!

It’s raining cats and dogs and we’re stuck in a downpour!

Or are we?

Are we stuck?

Or is it really all about our perspective?

I think we’ve forgotten that this Christian life never promised to be all roses and kittens and a cotton candy.

Jesus told us in the book of John, Chapter 16, verse 33, “In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

The very Son of God gave us a promise that life wouldn’t always be a cake walk, but that in fact we WILL continue to have bad days, hard times, and that it won’t always be easy.

Life, this side of forever, sucks sometimes.

There’s sickness.

Poverty is real.

Racism wasn’t left behind in the 60′s.

Death happens.

Shit happens.

There’s the quote you need to put on your next little E-card, “Jesus loves me, this I know, but shit happens.”

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It makes me think about some valleys that my Lindsey and I have walked through in our life together (we started dating eight years ago, yesterday, and I can truly say that I am more in love with her than I’ve ever been!):

  • After Ben Thomas was born, my Lindsey spent two weeks in the hospital.  Read her story here.  Here’s part of what Lindsey wrote, “Realize that you can’t separate anything from God.  Healing comes in many forms…and you are not your diagnosis.”
  • You can read my experience during that time here.  Here’s an excerpt, “Random moments during those weeks, it seemed like Satan was winning the battle for my mind. I have never been more scared or sad in my entire life.  Would I be living the life of a single Dad? Would she be permanently “damaged goods”? Would I be providing long-term care for a crazy person? These were very real fears that I tucked away, hidden in the shadows of my soul.”
  • Of course there’s the stories of my chilldhood.  From that post, “Being real is so freeing. Setting aside the mask of religion and regulations, I am now free to love others and myself with the grace of God that is radically transformative.”
  • There’s also the story of my suicide attempt.  Here’s a bit from that post, “Some people will not understand your struggles. Some will never understand your pain. Some people can never “get” your decision to try to end it all. I pray that they never do. Your story isn’t for everyone, but don’t let the ignorant words of a few silence your song of deliverance. Your story must be told, because once you couple that story with the Hope and Freedom found in Jesus Christ, you can overcome any obstacle! It’s your story. Own it.”

Like I said, Mrs. Lindsey and I have been through some STUFF, but so have you.  We’ve all had our ups and downs, been thrown curve balls, and felt all alone in the middle of a downpour, but the good news is that we have NEVER been left alone!  Jesus said we would continue to face hard times, but that He’s already won and that in the end, when we see Him again in Heaven, it will all be worth it.

John 16:21 and the verses following says:

When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you.

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That is exactly what it seems like we are experiencing right now!  Caroline Grace Austin was born two weeks ago and her name means “Free Grace” (how fitting, right?).  Lindsey and I see her as such a gift–she’s just one more example of God’s never-ending fountain of second chances.

We all have choices in life. 

Stuff is going to come our way that is less than desirable, but we choose our response. 

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I decided to go ahead and make one! ;)

We choose to wallow in the mud or splash in the puddles!

–Steve

#GraceIsMessy

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