Beautiful Between

living fully in the now & not yet

God With Us: Shelter

He remembered standing under the canopy with his bride. His heart swelled as he passed the cup of covenant for her to drink, showing her commitment to join their lives. From that day on, they were husband and wife.

Then Joseph went to prepare a place for her.


Reading: Matthew 1:18-25

Song: It Came to Pass by Andrew Peterson*


Joseph was the kind of man every Jewish boy wanted to grow into. His reputation was one of faithfulness to God, uprightness and integrity. He was careful to walk in the ways of the Lord.

His family had chosen well in Mary, a young woman full of grace and strength and devotion to the Lord. Joseph knew they would have a good life together, so their betrothal was a day of joy.

Still, it would be months before he brought her home. In those days, a newly betrothed man to build a space for his new wife and himself in his father’s house. Until it was complete, they remained separate and abstinent.

The timing of his return to bring his bride home was determined solely by the father, though it could be up to a year. So Joseph worked and waited.

Sometime in that year, the crushing news came: she was pregnant. And the baby wasn’t his.

The whole town knew they were betrothed. Eventually, Mary’s pregnancy would show and people would talk. Unless he divorced her for adultery, they would assume he had broken the law.

But public divorce could lead to Mary’s execution. He ached with grief, but he didn’t want her to die. He didn’t even want to contribute to the public shame she would inevitably endure.

Then the dream and the angel and the news that changed everything.

And Joseph immediately took Mary as his wife.

When his reputation as a good man was at stake, Joseph forfeited it and claimed the child as his own. He let the world believe he’d broken the commands of God by being intimate with Mary before the wedding.

Joseph identified himself with the public shame. He shielded Mary from punishment. He sheltered her in the space he’d built for her. But he also sheltered her physically, socially, and emotionally.

The story is familiar in its foreshadowing: the very child Joseph sheltered is the One who shelters us.

The same One stands between us and destruction, as Joseph did with Mary. And He willingly joins himself to our disgrace and shame.

He finds us in the midst of it, cups our faces, says, “I choose you. I choose you, no matter what the world says. I am yours, and you are Mine. No matter what.”

He comes close not to shame us, but to shelter us. He shelters us from harm, sits in the midst of confusion and darkness and pain with us. 


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*These devotions are inspired partly by Andrew Peterson’s gorgeous album, Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ. You would love it in your Christmas music collection <3

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