Posted on Monday, Dec 13, 2021 by Scott Savage

How to Step into Obedience like Joseph

I didn’t see that coming!

I mean, who could see something like that coming?! I had a plan... a beautiful plan. My future. Our future. 

But now all of that is gone. My plan is destroyed. My future is gone. Our future is no more. The person I loved the most betrayed me. I’m a wreck. My heart hurts and I’ve got to figure out a way out of this. I’m reeling and I don’t know what to do next. 

There is one option. It would be kinder than she deserves, but how can I destroy the woman I love?. It’s the only way to offer her any protection while still honoring the law.

Wait...is someone here…

What? I hadn’t even wrapped my mind around what she told me, and now this? Okay. This changes things. Now what? 

Even coming out of left field as it did, what she told me earlier is obvious compared to what this guy just said. I mean, if you had given me 100 guesses, I would’ve never come up with that explanation.

But, how do you argue with an angel standing in front of you?

I didn’t say much to him. I hope that wasn’t rude. But what is there to say when you get told that God has a plan for you to be part of something your people have been waiting to happen for hundreds of years? Not much. 

I guess since God has spoken, all I can do is trust and obey Him.

If you haven’t guessed already, you’ve been reading my imagination’s conception of Joseph’s reaction to both Mary’s news and to that of the angel Gabriel. While we have about 20-25 words from Mary when she encounters Gabriel in Luke 1, we have no words of Joseph’s response recorded from his encounter with Gabriel in Matthew 1. 

We know nothing about what was going on in Joseph’s mind after he learned of Mary’s pregnancy during their engagement period. We know nothing of what was going on in his mind when Gabriel appeared and shared “the rest of the story” regarding this surprise pregnancy. We only know what Joseph planned to do in response to the pregnancy and we know what Joseph actually did after Gabriel spoke to him. 

My comments are outside of Scripture and should be treated as such. Yet, I think we ought to remember all of the people in the Christmas narrative recorded in Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1-2 weren’t make-believe characters. Mary and Joseph weren’t like Buddy the Elf, Kevin McAllister, the Grinch, and Cindy-Lou Who. Mary and Joseph were real humans, flawed and with emotions like our own. Furthermore, they were young, likely both in their teens, with Mary younger than Joseph. Their responses to a surprising and hard-to-believe, real-life-plot-twist are truly awesome. 

Scripture does not record that Joseph fully understood all that God was doing. I know it’s common to think he instantly comprehended what the angel said, but I personally doubt he grasped it immediately or completely. I wonder if there should be a song written entitled “Joseph, Did You Know?” 

But, whether or not he understood what God communicated to him through Gabriel, it’s abundantly clear that Joseph obeyed what God called him to do. That’s a path many of us struggle to walk ourselves. We want to understand how things are going to work out before we start walking down a path. But, that’s not how life works. As Steve Jobs said in his famous commencement address at Stanford University before his death, 

“You cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking back.” 

It’s only when we look back from the destination that we see how the winding path was God’s best way. But, to get to that destination, we must take steps of obedience, even in the face of a lack of understanding. 

 Joseph’s lack of understanding didn’t keep him from obeying. The angel didn’t explain every detail of the plan, nor did the angel provide a FAQ section for Joseph in order for him to get up to speed on the plan. Joseph’s obedience didn’t require understanding and thankfully, God didn’t demand it. 

Ultimately, we all end up where Joseph did. No, not engaged to someone who is carrying a child through the work of the Holy Spirit. We all eventually end up facing a moment where it is undeniable what God is leading us to do next - take a step of obedience in the face of big questions and a lack of understanding. God isn’t calling us to blind obedience; He’s calling us to trust-based obedience. Based upon our trust in the character of God and in the face of our limited understanding, we will one day be invited to trust and obey. Maybe you’re receiving that invitation today.

2 Ways to Step into Obedience Like Joseph 1. Trust that God

As a kid, we used to sing a hymn in our church that included the line “trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.” @Hillsong United’s new song “Know You Will” reflects a similar sentiment when they sing 

“I don't know how 
You make a way - 
But I know You will.”

At some point or another, we’re all going to have an “I didn’t see it coming” moment like Joseph did. At that moment, we won’t understand what’s happening, but God will be speaking to us, showing us where to place our feet next. Just as Joseph’s obedience led to a destination he couldn’t have imagined (a testimony of faith being told two millennia later), our obedience can lead us to unknown places. 

RELATED CONTENT: "Know You Will" by Hillsong United

We don’t know what Jesus is doing, but we know He does. And that’s enough for today.


Scott Savage is a pastor and a writer with the coolest last name ever. He leads Cornerstone Church in Prescott, Arizona. Scott is married to Dani and they are the parents of three “little savages.” He helps hurting people forgive others through his Free to Forgive course and you can read more of his writing at scottsavagelive.com

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