Jay Blogs – A Stand-Up Guy
What was it like to be the role player, the one no one remembers in the Christmas story?
How did it feel to have your dreams shattered? To grow up, love God, obey His Law, put in a good, hard day’s work, and begin to realize all your humble, yet very real dreams: your own business, a woman chosen to be your wife, well-respected in the village around you. Until that day.
Until you learned she was pregnant, and you weren’t the father. Which hurt more: knowing everything you had hoped for was yanked out from under you, that you had been betrayed by the one who was supposed to be your all, or the judgmental pity of everyone in that small town around you? What did shame feel like as it burned, hotter than the midday sun, as you averted your eyes from the stares of a town like every mean little village since time began?
And, now you’re faced with that moment: the moment to recapture your dignity, to take back your self-righteousness, to do that which will restore you in the eyes of the community, to turn back their stares and their pity. And all you have to do is carry out the word of the Law: eye for eye, tooth for tooth, death for the death of your honor and of your love and of your dreams.
Except you can’t. Because love won’t let you. This one you want and now can never have, the destroyer of your heart and your life, trapped inside a small, frightened package. She still has you, even though she never will. Your love, and the clawing sense of what is truly right tearing up your gut, won’t let you. And, so, you choose mercy over judgment, and with it, a life of mocking and humiliation over honor and esteem. You choose love, even unrequited love, and resign yourself to a lonely life of shame, maybe ruin. Who will hire you? Who will love you? Where will you go?
These thoughts haunt your every moment, until the night you are haunted by something far greater still. The Voice. The One who tells you something shocking, and stunning, and that overwhelms you, the one thing you were both hoping desperately you would hear and yet could not fathom possible. She was now to belong to you, but also to Yahweh, and to everyone. Your firstborn would never be; you would raise someone else’s child as your own, yet that someone else would be the Ancient of Days, the One whose Name you could not even utter. “How could this be?”, You said, in an amazement that both overwhelmed your senses and captivated your will.
Did anything ever happen the way you expected again, or was life from that point onward a series of beautiful, joyous disappointments? What was it like to be the one who was responsible for providing for his wife and newborn child, yet only able to offer up what you’d hoped to be the greatest moment of her life in a cold, dark stable? What was it like to be a forced fugitive from a mad king, leading your own people to safety back into Egypt thousands of years after Moses led his people out? Then to return to that same little town and their judgment, standing up to neighbors, defending your wife and child from the recriminations and rumors of small-minded people, the first of millions to come to defend the name of Jesus? In all those years of pent-up anger, of holding crying kids and a heartbroken mom, did you ever ask yourself if you heard it wrong, if you had imagined the whole thing? If that was really the Lord of Lords over there, snoring on the pile with his brothers?
What was it like to teach the living Word, the One who spoke all creation into existence, to create and form from wood? To watch God’s little hands do it the first time poorly, and have to show Him all over again? What was it like to teach Him to fashion tables like the one around which He would serve up His body and blood? To teach Him to hew beams like the ones into which His feet and hands would be driven? To provide the needs of Jehoveh-jireh, the One who allows your heart to beat, and be the teacher of He who knows all things?
What was it like to die young, after all that pain, all that suffering, all that sacrifice, to never see the child you carried on your shoulders become all His Father intended for Him, and to see Him carry your sin and ever one else’s on His, to roll back the stone and emerge in victory, mostly because of all He already was since before time began, but in some small way because He grew up in your home, too, because He was also your son? What was that like?
I think I know. It felt like being a dad. A stand-up guy. The greatest thing you could ever be.
Jay Ferguson, Ph.D., Head of School at Grace Community School, writes regularly on his blog, JaysBlog.org.