12/23/2013 6:00:00 PM
Were Ashton Parsley not my first-born child and only daughter, I’d still have great admiration for her. At an age when many of her
contemporaries are still trying, but not too hard, to figure out what they want to do with their lives, Ashton has assumed major
responsibilities at our ministry. And she has done very well, earning the respect of the students she shepherds at Valor Christian
College as well as the senior members of our staff, who have come to see her as a peer. Yes, I’m biased. But she’s amazing!
And yet, not all that long ago, she was in her mid-teens, and I shuddered at the thought of letting her borrow the car. I believed
she had incredible potential to be whatever she wanted to be in the future. It was the present, and her safety, I was concerned about.
Yet God placed His Son in the womb of a peasant girl who was the age of my daughter not so long ago, and assigned her and a boy not
much older than that the task of raising Him to adulthood. I tell people all the time to have faith in God – but this was an example
of God having faith in man, and two teenagers who proved themselves worthy of that faith.
Matthew records the predicament the young couple was in:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came
together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put
her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
- Matthew 1:18-19, ESV
Mary and Joseph weren’t legally married, but they lived in a time when engagement carried the same legal significance as marriage.
A divorce would have been necessary to end the engagement, which would have been the kindest approach most Jewish men would have
taken if they had found out their betrothed was pregnant by another. Another man may well have let Mary suffer the customary
penalty for adultery – death by stoning.
And as Joseph had planned to grant Mary a divorce, God assured him that there was a greater plan:
But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not
fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall
call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the
"Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel"
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew
her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
- Matthew 1:20-25, ESV
The text calls Joseph a “just man,” meaning he was a true believer in God and carefully obeyed the law. He was a godly teenager, in
other words – one his parents certainly would have admired, but something less than an obvious choice to be the earthly father of
Whatever else God saw in Mary and Joseph, he saw trust and obedience. And as the leader of any organization can tell you, natural
skills are nice but the most significant accomplishments are made by people who are “all in;” that is, they are sold out for the
organization’s goals and mission. So often we focus on the youth of Mary and Joseph, but an older couple might have been inclined
to doubt that God would provide for them, or may have chosen their own approach to raising Jesus.
I believe there are many reading this who, in the midst of the joy of this holy Christmas season, would say they are ‘struggling’
regarding a direction from God. What I’m tempted to say to people who talk about their situation is that it’s not really the
decision they’re facing at the moment. It’s more likely that these folks know what they should do and the question they’re
struggling with is whether to trust God or themselves.
If that’s your situation this Christmas, my prayer for you is that you let Mary and Joseph be your inspiration to trust God.
Surely whatever your issue is, it pales beneath the assignment to raise the King of Kings as your own for 30 years.
Merry Christmas and a blessed 2014 from all of us at World Harvest Church, its ministries and outreaches, and the Breakthrough