But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
// Matthew 1:20-25
The nativity narrative is punctuated with prophetic dreams, angelic encounters and supernatural events, telling us that the supernatural is perhaps a lot more natural than we’ve been led to believe. Perhaps it connects us to the truth we are pursuing throughout Advent: that we are now as pure, holy, innocent and blameless as He is. Christ came to be those things – not just for us, but also in us. He has incarnated Himself in us so that His name, Immanuel, is a truth that defines our new lives in Him.
So if the life of Jesus – its beginning and its entirety – was naturally supernatural, then it’s natural that Gabriel would show up in Joseph’s dream, explain the situation to him and tell him how heaven saw things working out. Everything God does in our lives, even when our circumstances cry “scandal” or “disrepute,” eventually reveals itself as born of Him. In the natural a situation might look more like a stable than a palace, but if we shut our natural eyes and let the Spirit of God open our spiritual eyes, we will have dreams, visions and God-inspired imaginations to see our situations as He does. He’ll show us He’s building a dwelling place, a royal palace, in our lives.
It is possible, in the midst of shame or fear, to rejoice and quickly obey, once we identify the things that the Spirit has birthed in us. When we do, like Joseph, we become privy to a great secret: that which God puts in us grows. It grows large, and it takes over our lives and displaces the shame and fear we once knew. What better way to divvy out salvation than to plant it right in the midst of fear, sin and darkness, and stand back to watch it grow to fullness, overthrowing everything else.
There’s no better way to rid a room of darkness than to place a lamp in its center, plug it in and turn it on. That’s what Jesus does for us – He comes right into the middle of our brokenness and shows Himself to be the very wholeness we need. We cannot claim to be broken after the One named Salvation has brought all of His wholeness into our lives. Perhaps we should just learn to bask in the Light that He is, rather than fearing the darkness will come back again. Just as Gabriel told Joseph the Lord tells us: “Do not fear."