“Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, ‘Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.’ ” Matthew 2:13
Throughout most of my life I’ve read many stories of Christian men and women that have exerted great amounts of effort and energy to live the lives they believed God was calling them to live. Some of them were what we would call missionaries who had planned to go into difficult and challenging situations in the service of God. Others were just ordinary men, women, and sometimes children, living ordinary lives, until some extraordinary circumstance was thrust upon them and they were called on do things they’d never dreamed they’d have to do. In each of these stories were described events in which these people demonstrated tremendous faith as they did what God had called them to do.
In some of these stories the people took great risks, often repeatedly endangering their own lives, as they did the work God had called them to do. In other stories the people appeared to be doing nothing more than running and hiding as they depended on God to shelter and protect them.
And I’ve asked myself, as I’ve read these stories, “Which of these exhibits true faith?”
Somehow today’s focus text brings me closer to answering that question.
Our text tells us that once again Joseph’s sleep is disturbed by an angel coming to him in a dream with a message. This time the message is that they are to run away and hide in Egypt because King Herod wants to harm Jesus.
Joseph’s faith is demonstrated by his obedience to the angels command, in this case the call to run and hide. Later in the gospels Jesus will be called to walk into the face of trials, heartache and death, but not this time.
So what is faith? Faith is listening to the messages God has for us and obeying him. Sometimes those messages may be asking us to do something that matches our natural inclinations and at other times God may ask us to do something that cuts against the grain. Regardless, our faith is demonstrated by our obedience to God’s call.
This is why it’s so important that we connect ourselves personally to God through prayer. We need to learn to listen to God, confirm ourselves of his leading, and then obey.