“Angels and messages—the Holy Family had it so easy!” I lamented to my friend, my initial patience and surrender to God’s will waning as time wore on.
My humor was a thinly-veiled cry of confusion and frustration as I flailed for control: I wanted to trust God’s will, but once again I felt I had to do all the heavy lifting with options and decisions—trying to apply my small, close-minded understanding to God’s limitless ways.
Thankfully, Saint Joseph’s discernment is far more universal than it seems—and it can teach us a lot about how God approaches our decisions.
First: surrender the timeline. We see time as a constraint. Yet even in a dire decision about the Savior of the World, God took His perfect time. Joseph first had to learn about Mary’s pregnancy, wrestle with the only apparent options according to his conscience and the law, and with his own free will make a decision over the course of weeks, maybe even months. Only then did the angel show up.
Second: invite God in, and He will straighten the path. Joseph was a righteous man, unwilling to expose Mary to shame—he desired to do what was right in the eyes of the Lord and merciful. He invited God into the process. The Lord honored both Joseph’s free will and Joseph's desire to do God’s will. When Joseph veered a bit, God gave him the grace of broader vision to gently adjust course.
The Lord isn’t about micromanagement. He’s about relationship. God didn’t give Joseph authoritative commands. He presented an invitation, leading with the words, “do not be afraid,” and still ending with the freedom to say yes or no.
God’s will might be wildly different than we imagine, but in releasing control of our finite wants, we are able to open our arms to God’s dreams for us which encompass all eternity with Him.
Whatever you’re working through, when you sincerely (even if imperfectly) seek God’s will and invite Him in, God will straighten every path in His perfect time, and give you all the grace you need to say yes.
Be not afraid!
Catch this workshop from the archives about reviving your spiritual life if you're feeling dry this Advent.
Megan Hjelmstad is a wife and mom 24/7 and an Army Reservist in her “spare” time. She is the Stories Manager for the Blessed is She Instagram account. She’s a bibliophile, tea drinker, sleep lover, and avid admirer of Colorado’s great outdoors. She is a contributing author to our children's devotional prayer book called Rise Up. When the writing bug hits, you can find out more about her here.