Friday, December 26, 2008

accepting one's lot

When we look at the years following Jesus' birth, before his relatively short public ministry (around three years) we can speak of decades- three. Between Jesus' birth and public ministry there is not much Scripture tells us. About their flight from Bethlehem to Egypt and return with the move to Nazareth. And the incident in the Temple when Jesus was a boy of twelve. But other than that, we only can guess as to what Jesus' life was like.

It is evident that he learned Joseph's trade as a carpenter or stone mason (not sure as to what the word translated "carpenter" in our Bibles conveys on this). It is evident that he was also in submission to Joseph and Mary, even as Mary had to learn eventually to be submissive to him as her Lord (see Scot McKnight's book, The Real Mary, an excellent read Deb just recently finished).

In the way of Jesus we see the importance of accepting our lot. For some of us this involves being in places (need I say, climates, this time of the year?) that would not be high on our list to live in, for many of us this involves debt carried for perhaps some mistakes along with necessities, and college bills for children. And perhaps some of us are in difficult or troubled marriages, or less than ideal situations.

It's interesting that Jesus spent as much time as he did before launching out into public ministry. His mother had to wonder after receiving the promises from God through the angel, knowing firsthand the miraculous nature of Jesus' birth and the aftermath surrounding that, she had to wonder at the length of time Jesus seemed unengaged in messianic work. (Where is Joseph? We don't know. It does seem evident from the silence in Scripture that he was deceased by the time Jesus began his public ministry.) We know that Jesus' brothers (half brothers, of course) did not believe in him as Messiah until after Jesus' resurrection. We also know that in that society, Jesus was definitely "middle aged" when he began his ministry since life expectancy was only around the mid-forties or a little beyond that.

The way of Jesus we find in Scripture is the way of accepting and embracing one's lot from God. Jesus sought to live well with the Father where he was. Did that involve struggle and prayers? Not recorded for us, though surely it did, and surely what he was experiencing was preparatory for the ministry of three years. But the point made here for us is that part of the walk God has for us is to accept life as it is, not as we wish it would be. For some this will be much more difficult than for others. For a number of obvious and not so obvious reasons.

What we need to endeavor to do in Jesus is to live well in our circumstances and plight, in the lot we have. Lot has the idea of what is apportioned or given to us from God. Do we really believe that what we're living in is our lot from God? With the good and bad of it? Do we see it as the place in which God wants us to learn to follow him well, and live well? Or do we deny that for whatever reason, for a multitude of possible reasons?

I find it easy to want to bail out or somehow change my lot when I'm faced with new difficulties or suppose the grass would be greener elsewhere.

By faith we need to see God as the One who has given us life and calls us to be responsible to him and to others in the circumstances we now face. Some of our making, to be sure. But with the belief that God is able to turn everything for good, and that he is at work in our lives and circumstances. We need in Jesus to learn to accept and even embrace our lot. This is part of what God calls us to in Jesus. This is part of the way in Jesus along with the truth and life in him.

What would you like to share on this which might be helpful for us?

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