Every year during the Christmas season, I read the Advent passages from Scripture, which is an astonishing look at the Hand of God at work. At first glance, one would think that everything seems out of kilter, as if God took all things normal and rational and threw them to the wind. But with closer examination, God is simply confounding the wisdom of the wise in this world to prove His power and His might.

A teenage peasant girl and her carpenter husband-to-be are the center of the miracle story. These people of Christmas are ordinary by human standards. Yes, they were ordinary on the outside, but undeniably extraordinary on the inside.

I am struck by the amazing faith and obedience of this young couple. The angel speaks to both of them, and they accept and believe his words. I find it hard to comprehend the magnitude of being told you are pregnant though a virgin, and that your pregnancy is by the Holy Spirit. What faith is demanded to hear these words! Yet, Mary’s response was unhesitating and an immediate surrender to the will of the Lord, “I am the Lord’s slave. May it be done to me according to Your word.”

Joseph must have been a remarkable young man. I cannot imagine the hurt when he discovered his wife-to-be was pregnant, even though they had not been intimate. Betrayal, unbelief, and anguish must have gripped his heart. Yet, his first thought was not of himself, but of Mary. He sought to act privately so as not to publicly disgrace her. What a man! No, what a man of God! When he heard the truth from the angel, he never diverted. He moved straightforward to walk with Mary through this situation, knowing it was the will and way of God.

So, you understand when I say Mary and Joseph were the most unlikely couple to be parents to the King of Kings by all outward appearances, but they were extraordinary when considered in the spiritual realm.

I am challenged to consider the level of my faith and obedience as I think about Mary and Joseph. I have the privilege of the manger and cross in the rearview mirror. Surely, obedience to the voice of God in my life would be simple. With the full scriptural testimony and the abiding Holy Spirit, it would seem that I would have no trouble following the way of Mary and Joseph. Right? I could wish. I fear my faith and obedience are too often marked by negotiation and compromise. What about you?

The center of Christmas is the birth of the Christ Child, and this fact should never be diminished. The Christmas season should be filled with praise and adoration of Christ, but we should not walk through this season without being challenged to grow in our faith and obedience. Mary and Joseph stand as shining examples for us all. Our humble place in the midst of the Christmas season should be nothing short of “I am the Lord’s slave. May it be done to me according to Your word.” The Christ Child deserves our humble obedience and unfettered faith. When God speaks or calls me, my answer needs to be a clear and unreserved, “Yes!”

Polla and I wish you a very Merry Christmas.