God in the Requirements


I can’t imagine Joseph being overjoyed when news of the census arrived in Nazareth. Beyond the dangers of the extensive trip north to Bethlehem, and the time away from his carpentry (which supplied his living), his betrothed was very round with child.

He had no choice, though. The requirements of Roman law overruled the inconvenience.

But what may have seemed a gigantic disruption was actually fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem.

We also live under the weight of requirements. We must stop at red lights. Show up to work on time and give our best effort. Help children with homework. Return books to the library. Shop for groceries. Pay our heating bill. Renew our licenses. Pay our taxes.

Like Joseph, we don’t jump for joy at all the musts put upon us by the authorities in our lives. Then on top of all the required things of life, we must bear the surprises. The car breaks down; the child gets sick; the water heater breaks; a friend dies; the economy crashes.

Have you suffered an inconvenience lately? A requirement that forced you to reshape your life? Perhaps something outside of your plans, but which has taken center stage with the power of a prima dona?

Nothing—not the required musts of life, nor the interrupting surprises—can disrupt the Sovereignty of God. His will prevails, not only by his power, but by his grace and love. Meaning, if you’re asking, “Why, Lord?” He won’t shout at you, “Because I can,” but rather whisper, “Because I love you and am with you.”

Emmanuel. We must come back to this foundational truth daily. God is with us. Not just at Christmas when we read the prophetic scriptures and focus on the manger, but every day, all day.

“Glory to God in the highest,” sang the angels. Highest in power. Highest in love. Highest in redeeming circumstances, using the requirements of this world to fulfill his purposes.

Grace and peace to you, friends, and may you remember Micah 6:8 amidst the pressures of this season: What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Even if you’re walking a difficult path, maybe one that takes you from Nazareth to Bethlehem.


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