Parenting the Son of God

I looked at the sleeping child I had carried in my body for nine months, now cradled in a manger. My breath caught with the realization that I beheld the face of God—that I had birthed the son of God!

When I touched his soft, warm cheek, he opened his eyes.

“Joseph,” I whispered. “He’s awake.”

“Does he have enough swaddling cloths, Mary? I found more in the back.”

“Yes. Come here, my love,” I called again.

When he was at my side, I slipped my fingers into his, weaving our hands together. “Stop fussing. He is fine. We are both fine.”

The crease hadn’t left the young man’s brow since the last innkeeper’s apologetic refusal.

“This wasn’t at all what I had planned. I’m so sorry, Mary. Maybe if we had left Nazareth sooner? I should have gone ahead to secure a room.” He bit his lip, a gesture I recognized as self-doubt.

His eyes filled with tears as he gazed at the child. “Are you sure he’s okay?”

I laughed. “Joseph, he is more than okay. He is perfect. This was God’s plan all along, and there was nothing you could have done to change it.”

I touched the cloth covering his tiny toes with my free hand. “Our little boy is wrapped up tight and cozy. Can’t you see how happy he is?”

The baby made a small mewing sound that made me laugh again. “Listen! He agrees!”

Joseph’s face finally relaxed then as he smiled.

“Look, Jesus, you just performed your first miracle!” I giggled. “You made your earthly daddy forget his troubles for a moment.”

A blush crept over Joseph’s face as he shook his head silently.

I rested my head on his shoulder. “You’re going to make a wonderful father, my love. I don’t know why God chose us to parent His son, but He did. As long as we put our trust in Him, we don’t need to worry because He will guide us. It’s incredible, but we are part of His perfect plan.”

I barely heard the words my husband whispered as he raised his head, but they formed a promise of trust and dedication to the Mighty One.

Jesus scrunched up his beautiful face at that moment and began to wail.

With the loud cry, uncertainty briefly flashed in Joseph’s eyes again.

“I got this one, Dad. The boy is hungry!” I laughed as I scooped the baby up to feed him.

But my brave words suggested more confidence than I felt. Even this small, motherly task was foreign to me. It was my turn to pray for guidance as I nestled the child’s face towards my chest. The one thing I did know for sure was that I would be communicating often with this child’s all-knowing Father.

Children don’t come with instruction manuals unless you count the sometimes-conflicting advice of your mother and mother-in-law. When new parents gaze at their infant for the first time, I doubt that any feel confident in their abilities to parent their little one. I can only imagine how the parents of twins or triplets must feel!

Not only was Jesus Mary’s first child, but he was also God’s Son, the expected Messiah! Now, that was a heavy responsibility. While the scenario above is fictional, I don’t think it’s a stretch to believe that Mary and Joseph were nervous about this undertaking.

As the mother of three grown boys, I sometimes reflect and question various parenting strategies I used while they were young. But it is what it is now. Without a time machine or some large magic stones at the entry of a time portal, I’m left with the one thing I can still do for my children that can positively impact their future: pray for them.

Just like the Mary in my retelling knew that she would need to consult God regularly during her child-rearing, I know I need to communicate with Him often about my sons, too. And then I have to trust God and believe that He’s got them in His hand.

Have you ever considered how daunting Mary’s role as the mother of Jesus was? I believe God purposely chose a young girl who would not feel confident in her position, so she would depend on Him more.

God has chosen you, too. His plan for you might involve a parenting role, or it may not. Either way, He extends His hand to you as your Father and invites you to share your life with Him. Bring Him your regrets and ask forgiveness for your sins. Then ask Him to use you to share His love with others.

Father, thank You for sending Jesus into this world in such a humble way. Thank You for choosing an ordinary woman to be the Messiah’s earthly mother, proving that You can use ordinary people like me to do big things for You. Guide me in my day-to-day tasks and show me how I can bless others this Christmas season. Amen.

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