She put her small, slim hand gently on my arm, and looking up into my eyes with her own soft brown ones, alight with an inner glow, and said, “Joseph, an angel spoke to me today.”
The smile I always seemed to wear when I was with Mary, my betrothed, slid from my face. I was sure I hadn’t heard her right. “An angel, Mary? What do you mean?”
Her serene beauty and quiet peace added to the solemnity of what she was saying. Mary, who was usually bubbling over with energy and playfulness, seemed to have matured into full womanhood in the two days since I had seen her last. Her sparkling eyes had a deeper, more serene shine to them. “Joseph,” she said, “the angel told me that I am with Child.” Her eyes watched me with a touch of apprehension, but also with a subtle glow that I could not name.
My heartbeat escalated and I looked back and forth, from one eye to the other, questions clouding my own. “Mary,” I said, a question in my voice. “Mary, how can that be? I have not…I have not known you yet. How can that be?”
“Joseph, my husband, it is of the Lord. The angel said I will have a Son, and will give Him the name, Jesus. My Baby will be the Messiah we have heard of for so long.”
I placed my own hand over her small, warm one resting on my arm and looked over her head, off into the distance. My own hand had gone cold and my heart had turned to stone. What was I to do? Had she gone mad? I looked into her eyes again and tried to probe their depths. I could see no hint of madness or guile. All I saw was a tranquil look in her eyes and an unspoken question.
I patted her hand. “Mary,” and my voice broke and sounded raspy even to my own ears. I cleared my throat and tried again. “Mary, I need to think on this. More than that, I need to pray. I cannot take in what you have told me.” I took her hand gently from my arm and held it in both of mine. “Are you sure this was not a dream, Mary? Do you know what you are saying?”
I saw the pain enter her eyes and I felt that pain like a knife in my belly. I was bewildered by what she had said and worried because she seemed not to understand the absurdity of what she was expecting me to believe. She was changed and I was not sure I recognized this woman who stood before me expecting me to believe she was still a virgin and this was a “holy happening.” God help us!
“Yes, Joseph. I know what I’m saying. I too had my doubts, but only for a moment. The angel was so clear and I could just feel the glory surrounding us. You must believe me,” she said, a hint of desperation in her voice.
“Ah, Mary,” I said as I dropped her hand, “I need to pray about this.” I turned abruptly and left her, hurrying home to my pallet and my prayers. As I lay prostrate, praying for direction in dealing with my wayward wife-to-be, I fell asleep and an angel appeared to me in a dream. “Joseph, son of David, Mary has not been unfaithful to you. The Holy Spirit has planted the Seed in her and she will bear the Salvation of the world. Gather her to you as your wife, but do not know her until Salvation is born,” said the angel. “Give Him the name of Jesus.”
I have never regretted following the promptings of the angel. If I never accomplish anything else in my life, saving Mary from ruin was worth my life.
Excerpt from Mary’s journal: Joseph’s quiet stability and gentle ways have given a solid security to our family. The rocky start to our marriage, and the way he handled my “condition,” made me so proud of him, so thrilled to have him as my husband. He is a hero to me. Quiet and unassuming, he stood courageously by my side through a situation that other men would have preferred to see buried under stone. I thank God daily for the gift of Joseph. My only regret is that he did not live to see the ministry of our Jesus.
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