Word of the Week

Waiting With Hope: Day 3- Ed Cyzewski

“Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’”
Matthew 1:19-21

I had a mix of joy and dread as I waited for our son to be born. It’s not that I didn’t want a son. I just feared that I would somehow screw things up. I also couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be a father.

When I thought of having a baby, I couldn’t see how the details would all work. Having a child, in many respects, is a leap of faith. We say yes to this great unknown without any guarantees about what the future will look like or how our lives will change.

It’s easy to jump to conclusions where we anticipate future failures, future conflict, and future regret.

All of these anticipated failures made up enough scenes in my mind to fill up several made for television movies.

In the months that followed the birth of our son, I’ve often meditated on the story of Joseph, the Father of Jesus, who had to take one of the larger leaps of faith. I found someone I could relate to in Joseph, even if our stories diverged in many ways.

Having children is both normal and a dramatic leap of faith. I think we forget that because it’s so common. However, when you’re in the middle of it, the anticipation can be kind of maddening. You’re forced to confront all of your inadequacies and insecurities. You’re going to be completely responsible for this tiny little person.

I can only imagine the pressure that Joseph felt.

He was put in charge of an extraordinary child and included in God’s plan of salvation.


Mess this up, and there won’t be any Messiah for Israel. No biggie.

Where did Joseph find the strength to take this enormous leap of faith? How did he choose to sacrifice his reputation and take a risk that Mary was really telling the truth?

He didn’t.

While Joseph was going to be nice enough about the whole thing and we get the sense that he truly did care for Mary, he didn’t have the faith or strength to take on this enormous unknown of becoming the father of the supposed Messiah. It took divine intervention.

Joseph didn’t seek out God’s help. God practically chased him down, waiting to pounce while he was sleeping. It took a visit from an angel to assure Joseph about what he had to do.

That’s reassuring to me.

Sometimes the “heroes” of our faith seem larger than life, taking bold risks that we could never see ourselves making. We get discouraged when our day to day struggles weigh us down.

I felt terribly guilty and awful and inadequate with all of my fear about becoming a father.

Shouldn’t I want to be a father?

I did, but I also feared it mightily.

God didn’t chase me down in my dreams, but he kept placing me in the company of friends who cared enough to ask how I was doing and to pray for me when I told them I wasn’t doing all that great.

It took these prayers around a kitchen table or while taking a walk down our street to prepare me for fatherhood. That leap into parenthood felt like the biggest challenge of my life. In retrospect, I found that my friends passed along God’s strength to far it with courage and to rejoice in my new role as a parent responsible for a little boy.

I wouldn’t change anything about my life today, and a big part of that is because God healed the fear that held me down through the prayers of others.

That serves as a reminder that when I face another leap of faith, there’s a good chance I won’t feel ready for it. In fact, I know I won’t be. I never was before.

EdCyzewskiLet us pray:

As we face the challenges of this day, Lord, help us to remember that you are always with us. Help us to take leaps into the unknown of waiting for what we cannot see.

Ed Cyzewski lives in Columbus, OH with his wife and son and attends a Vineyard congregation. He’s is the author of Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life and co-author of Unfollowers: Dropouts, Detractors, and Doubters of Jesus (WPH 2014). He writes at www.inamirrordimly.com.