“I made haste and delayed not to keep thy commandments.” – Psalm 119:60
“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” – Isaiah 30:21
“Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.” – Matthew 1:24-25
To say my husband is an early riser would be an understatement. Most mornings, Paul wakes up at 4:30 a.m. for work, and he rarely sleeps in, even on his days off. More than once, I’ve gotten up at 5:30, only to find that the morning pot of coffee has cooled, and my hard-working husband has already accomplished more than most people will do all day.
Then there’s Joey. Joey has a cushy, comfortable waking time (compared to his dad) of 6:45, and the mornings are still rife with sleepy-headed pleas of “two more minutes” and “just five more minutes.” As active as he is every other moment of the day, Joey does not have his father’s get-up-and-go, when it’s time to get up and go to school.
The Christmas story is marked by unmistakable get-up-and-go obedience. With no word from the Lord for over 400 years, centuries separated the minor prophets and the “fulness of time” found in the early chapters of Matthew and Luke (Galatians 4:4). Then suddenly, angels are popping up everywhere, forgotten prophecies are coming true, and the invisible hand of God is as visible as a brilliant star in a black-night sky. And for every angelic order, there was no “two more minutes”, no time to mull over next steps or to sit on the fence of submission. Rather there was a distinct need for full-throttle commitment, full-on faith, and get-up-and-go obedience.
Although Mary (Luke 1:38), the shepherds (Luke 2:15-17), and the wisemen (Matthew 2:10-12) all had their significant moments of immediate appropriate response to God, Joseph stands out as the poster boy for get-up-and-go. No less than four times, he wakes from a dream and jumps at God’s command, and each time, vital prophecy is fulfilled, and God is no-doubt pleased. Let’s take a look at Joseph’s defining moments:
Moment #1 – Joseph takes a wife (Matthew 1:19-25). Joseph’s first challenge had to be the greatest. His intended bride returns from an extended stay at her cousin’s, visibly pregnant and making crazy excuses for her obvious condition. And although the cultural pressure to drop her had to be tremendous, Joseph wakes up from his first angelic dream and makes Mary his wife.
Moment #2 – Joseph takes a trip (Matthew 2:13-15). Egypt, of all places. No self-respecting Jew wanted to go there, but another angelic dream made it clear that Egypt was the only place where the infant Jesus would be safe from Herod. And the quick succession of events makes it clear that any hesitation on Joseph’s part would have stranded his family in the middle of a slaughter.
Moment #3 – Joseph takes his family home (Matthew 2:19-21). Following the death of Herod, Joseph dreams again, receiving instructions to return to Israel with Mary and young Jesus. Again, he acts immediately.
Moment #4 – Joseph takes the long way around (Matthew 2:22-23). Rather than returning to Bethlehem, Joseph’s fourth dream directs him to his hometown of Nazareth and another critical fulfillment of prophecy.
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like the craziness of the past year has dulled our ability to get-up-and-go for God like never before. We move in response to fear, but not fear of God. We race to obey science and culture and conformity, and I can’t imagine that God is pleased. More than once, I have caught myself being more concerned about what people think than what God thinks, and I’m not proud of it.
What if we have reached our own “fulness of time”? What if God’s plan for us hinges on our obedience the way that Jesus’s young life hinged on Joseph’s? Do we want to fail Him? I know I do not (Ephesians 1:10).
As you consider the next time you will go to church, the next opportunity to share your faith, and the next moment when you must take a stand for Jesus, ask God to help you to cultivate a get-up-and-go obedience (Isaiah 6:8, Mark 16:15, John 14:23, Romans 6:16, I John 2:3-4, 3:22-24, 5:2). Know your Shepherd’s voice and follow it without hesitation (John 10:27-28). And when God says, “Move”, make sure you get up and go.
Are you listening to God’s voice above all others? In today’s world, we are constantly bombarded with voices that contradict God’s Word. Tune them out by tuning in to prayer.