Get Up

A round of some type of viral respiratory infection that rolled straight into a sinus infection rendered me “Sleepless in Colington” last month. The minute I put my head on the pillow every night, that annoying tickle-cough-draining-into-my-chest thing seized me and kept me awake. Both my husband and the dog fled to the guest room for over a week, waiting it out.

If you’ve dealt with that kind of thing, or have a newborn in the house, or are kept awake at night with anxiety and fears that become larger at night, you know how begin sleep-deprived can rob you of all your critical thinking skills, cognitive powers, and even your ability to be polite. My head was mush for over two weeks and nothing got done … and the things that got done were poorly. My get up and go got up and left.

As we have finally rounded the corner past Christmas and are heading into the new year, we have a moment to focus on Joseph. We remember him for many things. We remember his humility in receiving an unwed pregnant girl into his keeping when he could have easily dismissed Mary. We remember his sacrifice of reputation and freedom. We see his struggle to provide shelter for his newborn son and new wife. We admire his quiet and steadfast faith.

And we are amazed at his ability to think fast on his feet in the middle of the night when his sleep was interrupted. God appeared to him in a dream with the command, “Get up.”

Matthew 2 (Common English Bible)

13 When the magi had departed, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon search for the child in order to kill him.” 14 Joseph got up and, during the night, took the child and his mother to Egypt. 15 He stayed there until Herod died. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I have called my son out of Egypt.

I always wonder what happened to this little family during the Egypt years. As immigrants, they surely had a hard time finding shelter and work to sustain them. They lived under the threat of a tyrant who was hell-bent on killing their child. This awful man had no problem killing all the children in Bethlehem in hopes of eliminating Jesus. The fear and disorientation for these young parents must have been overwhelming.

Murder of the Bethlehem children

16 When Herod knew the magi had fooled him, he grew very angry. He sent soldiers to kill all the children in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding territory who were two years old and younger, according to the time that he had learned from the magi. 17 This fulfilled the word spoken through Jeremiah the prophet:

18 A voice was heard in Ramah,
    weeping and much grieving.
        Rachel weeping for her children,
            and she did not want to be comforted,
                because they were no more.

And finally, when King Herod died, Joseph is awakened in the middle of another night and told to “Get up” again:

19 After King Herod died, an angel from the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. 20 “Get up,” the angel said, “and take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel. Those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” 21 Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 

Joseph was a sharp and quick thinker. He followed God’s instructions and allowed the Holy Spirit to guide him along the way. A third night of sleep was disrupted, and the angel sent them to Galilee to keep Jesus and Mary safe.

22 But when he heard that Archelaus ruled over Judea in place of his father Herod, Joseph was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he went to the area of Galilee. 23 He settled in a city called Nazareth so that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled: He will be called a Nazarene.

This makes me wonder what God is telling me to “Get up” and do. Am I sleepwalking through my faith? Am I mush-headed and missing cues around me that the Holy Spirit is trying to guide me toward?

Are you?

Let us agree to be like Joseph and get up and go when called and sent by the Lord. I pray for clarity of direction for all of us.

Get up!

Bleak Midwinter by Michelle Robertson

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