As Mary walked, she prayed her armpits would not smell by the time she reached the oak tree.
This meeting with Joseph was not customary. An older man than most husbands, he had waited to marry. Joseph wanted love, not a contrived business arrangement.
Father in heaven, oh God of Jacob, please be with me. I feel so young, without much experience of anything. I barely talk to my father here on earth, just my brothers. They are young and foolish most days. Oh God, is this the one for me?
Looking ahead, Mary saw no one at the oak tree designated in the message her parents received. Her stomach tightened. She thought she might vomit.
Slow down, Mary. I am with you.
With peace, Mary stopped shuffling and ruffling her sandals. Instead, she took careful steps. As Mary lifted her eyes from the ground, she saw him. Joseph somehow arrived at the tree right in the middle of her panic. As their eyes met for the first time, his smile jumped out of the tuft of dark brown hair covering his lips.
Mary’s steps quickened. She didn’t know what to say, but she was drawn closer.
Joseph’s sandals were worn, his feet dirty.
Unaware she was staring at his feet, Joseph said, “My apologies, Mary. I worked through the noon meal before coming to meet you.”
Embarassed, Mary’s mouth went dry. She had no words. She did notice, however, his voice was strong yet calm.
“Mary, thank you for coming. I needed to meet you before …”
Fear spoke from Mary’s young soul. The thought of marriage seemed more pleasing than the reality.
Joseph stepped closer to her.
“May I touch you?”
“I-I-I don’t …”
His smile flashed again.
“Oh, Mary, I don’t mean … what I meant was my hand. It is clean. May I touch your cheek?”
God waved His holy hand over Mary, giving her peace.
Truly, His peace is available in every circumstance known to mankind.
“Why, I suppose so.”
Taking one step closer, Josesph first found Mary’s chestnut brown eyes. There he held her gaze, before tenderly placing his hand on her right cheek.
Mary was overcome with a feeling she had not yet known. It was different than the love for her sister, for her parents, for her God. It left her wanting more of this man. She now felt sure God had chosen Joseph her.
Mary’s brothers began taunting and teasing her. Mary wanted privacy before Joseph and his parents were to arrive. She needed time to pray.
“Mary is leaving us. Oh how awful for us. She will be busy making babies and forget all about us.”
In a moment of anxiety, Mary rebuked them, “Will you get yourselves together? My heavens, where are your manners? Now go, leave me alone!”
A rather sudden tear rolled down her right cheek, the one Joseph held. Caught between two worlds, Mary longed for new life, the one where she was now the wife, where she would feel the warmth of Joseph each night before sleep. Yet, a betrothal could be as much as a year.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the determined knocking on the front door. Running her hands down her legs to lay the wrinkles out of her dress, she ran toward her parents’ room.
“Mama, they are here. Is Father home yet?”
“No, Mary, he is not. I have no message from him. We will begin anyway.”
Joseph had washed his feet. Mary could almost smell the spices. A fluttering in her stomach, not the sick kind, rather the love kind, lifted her to her tippy toes.
Joseph’s father spoke first, “This is the gift in exchange for your daughter, this Mary. Several vats of olive oil and twenty pounds of grain.”
Mary’s mother tentatively spoke, “If it pleases you, then as my husband is still working, and we struggle to feed our family, well then shall we also receive ten denari? We assume Mary will stay with us for another six months to a year?”
Leveling her feet back on solid ground, Mary gasped at her mother’s boldness.
It was agreed between Joseph’s parents and Mary’s mother: the several vats of olive oil, twenty pounds of grain and five denari. Mary was to remain pure until the wedding, anticipated within a short four months. Joseph was both eager and sure of his bride.
God’s hand was upon this future marriage. In His glory, God orchestrated the betrothal to stand apart, NOT to be routine and look like others, as this couple was chosen by Him.
When God chooses us, we are set apart, whether we like that or not. Set apart could look like strife for a time. Set apart is a way God reserves us for Himself, a blessed assurance we are in His arms, in His care … even when we find no place on earth to “fit in”.
Truly, Mary would be the only woman on earth to carry His Son, to be His mother. God chose her because she was lowly, not thinking high of herself. Mary would submit to her Father in heaven, not because it made logical sense but because she had faith in His holy power.
Good morning and welcome!
Though I originally said this story would end next Saturday, please join me this coming week as I write until God tells me stop! I am so looking forward to writing about God’s angels and His birth.
I don’t know what’s going on in your life, but we in the Dibble house are in the middle of a storm. Financial and health stress.
We need hope.
But not just those of in a storm. All believers need to grasp tightly to the hope of Jesus and pray He draw more to Himself even this hour.
So, I pray this story, though fiction, will draw you to His Word, His Truth and His Hope, that is real and needed more so now than ever.
Feel free to start a conversation here about Mary in the comments or email me privately at email@example.com.
All photos in this post are from Pixabay.com.
En-JOY this given day.
Love in Christ,