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Joseph had probably been planning and dreaming for a few years. Now the dream was beginning to materialize: Mary was his betrothed!  He had been working and saving to provide a home for her to come to – to join him and make a family, to have children and love life together.  He couldn’t keep from smiling just at the thought of it all.  She was due back from her visit with her cousin Elizabeth today. He put away his tools and cleaned up from his project, hurried out the door and down the street. As he shielded his eyes from the desert sun, he could see the caravan slowly approaching, wispy dust clouds hovering around the camels’ feet. His heartbeat quickened.  He could make out her pretty face now, her petite form as she dismounted and walked toward him.  She smiled at him tentatively.  He glanced down and saw her abdomen:  protruding and obviously with child.  His heart lurched and almost stopped.   The scene blurred and he barely heard her greet him. She could see the shock and hurt in his eyes.  Her smile faded as she reached out to him, “Let me explain, Joseph.”  In disbelief, he turned away from her and walked back home….alone.  He couldn’t believe it.  It was as if Mary had thrown a rock that struck his dream and began a crack that spread and splintered.  Joseph’s dream was shattering right before him.  How could she?!  Who is the father?! What do I do?  Anger and hurt threatened to suffocate him as his mind raced, trying to process what had happened.

He laid in bed that night staring at the ceiling.  He would seek a divorce quietly.  The law called for harsh punishment, but even in his heartbreak he couldn’t bring himself to have Mary stoned.  He still loved her, even though his heart was drowning in questions and disappointment.  Hopefully this would cause less shame and embarrassment for Mary and her family…and for Him. Tears burned in his eyes and he turned over to sleep.

Late in the night a deep comforting voice began speaking to Him.  A warmth spread all through him; a pure and holy peace washed over him.  Was he dreaming?  The voice sounded so real: so powerful, yet gentle, fearsome, yet inviting. “Don’t be afraid.  Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, Joseph. The baby she’s carrying is a holy child, God’s own son! When He’s born, name Him Jesus. He’s going to be the Savior, the deliver for all people.”

When he awoke, the words were still ringing in his ears and heart. “Yes. I will, Lord. I will do as you say.” Deep down inside his spirit he was thankful.  He would still get to have his Mary, his family, his life.  It was going to be much different than He had dreamed, but it was going to be wonderful.  In fact, he would soon see that what God had dreamed was infinitely more than He could have ever hoped or imagined – not only for him and for Mary, but for all people throughout all time.

Sometimes we have a dream that seems so perfect but it splinters right before our eyes.   Hurt rises up and rains down hard.  As we stand soaked with disappointment, questions swirling inside, if we listen we’ll probably hear God saying, “I have a different dream for you.”  We can choose to let go of our dreams and embrace God’s dream.  If we do, we will be blessed.  We will experience more than we could have thought up or imagined.

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