Diary of a Pregnant Virgin #17

11:49 AM Edit This 1 Comment »
Dear Diary,

I’m pretty sure this is the most inconvenient thing that could possibly happen right now. Apparently the Roman Emperor got up one day and decided it was a beautiful day for some new taxes. He’s taxing pretty much everyone in the known world. So can we just stroll down to our neighborhood Roman outpost and pay our taxes? No, of course not, because this is our beloved Caesar Augustus, and that would be way too easy. So we have to go all the way to wherever our ancestors are originally from. In our case, that happens to be Bethlehem, the city of David. It’s a week’s journey away, through rough terrain.

Joseph fumed for a while, then started making plans. He talked about everything he would need to pack, and then he said he would leave me with my parents while he was gone. That’s when I stopped him.

“I’m coming too,” I said.

“No, you’re not,” he said.

“Yes, I am.”

“No, you’re not—Mary, you’re nine months pregnant, for heaven’s sake!”

“Joseph, I’m stubborn and I’m going.”

So the next day he packed up the donkey for both of us.

It’s been four days on the road now. It’s going to be another two at least before we get to Bethlehem. It’s ridiculously cold, even during the daytime. We have to constantly keep an eye out for robbers. I’m riding on the donkey, which is way better than walking, but all this jostling is pretty painful. I’m enormous now. I’d hardly be comfortable at home on the couch, let alone riding a donkey through the mountains for a week straight.

Still, it’s been so nice to have this time together just to talk. We mostly talk about the baby, of course. What he’s going to look like, what his first words will be, whether he will know who he is, whether he’ll have to struggle to learn the Law like other boys. And we talk about our own story. This morning I asked Joseph to tell me again what the angel said to him.

“He—well, at least it might have been a he—said to me, ‘Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’”

“What do you think that last part means, that he will save his people from their sins?”

“The Messiah will defeat Israel’s enemies and establish a kingdom that will never end. Maybe it means it will save us from the punishment of our sins, like when God brought us back from the exile.”

“But we aren’t in exile now, Joseph. This is Israel.”

“It’s an Israel ruled by the Romans. Hardly Israel as she was meant to be.”

“Maybe… but what if it means more?” I told him about the passage in Isaiah. I’ve been thinking about this ever since Elizabeth’s, and I still have it memorized.

“‘Surely he has borne our greifs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken.
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.’

“It says he actually takes the punishment for our sins. That can only mean one thing, Joseph.”

Joseph was quiet. I saw him thinking with me. He said it before I did. I don’t think I could actually bring myself to say the word.

“Sacrifice.”

I nodded, my throat tight. I pressed my hand against my stomach. “Just like the sheep in the temple.”

Joseph shook his head. “Beaten bloody and killed… your child, Mary…”

“I know he’s my child!” I shouted suddenly. “I know! I have born him for nine months, and I loathe the thought of any pain coming to him, much less torture and death. I wish it was me! I wish Isaiah wrote that the virgin would be afflicted, not this innocent baby! I hate it! I hate it!” The donkey had stopped, and I was shaking now. My throat hurt from the tears and the shouting. A tear landed on my belly. Joseph gave me his hand, and I gripped it hard to steady myself.

Then I said, “But he was God’s son before he was ours, and I’m sure God wouldn’t let this happen if there was any other way. If this is what has to happen… then what can we say, Joseph? What can we say?”

Joseph held me against his shoulder and let me cry. I felt his tears falling on my neck too. I felt the baby pressed between us, ignorant of what was coming.

It was just the two of us with the baby and the donkey in the middle of nowhere, but it didn’t feel like we were alone. It was as if all of heaven was heavy with sorrow. I knew God was there, and he was crying with us. We stayed there for a long time, three parents weeping for our son.

I heard Joseph start to pray. “Holy God, we’re just two people, and we don’t understand what you’re doing, but we know you have a plan. We trust that if pain has to come for your plan to be accomplished, then that’s what has to happen. We trust that you will be with us, and with your son, all the days of his life. Thank you that you have promised to bring us peace. Thank you for giving humanity this miracle, and for letting us be a part of it. Be with us now, God. Give us strength for the days ahead.”

I whispered along with him. “Help us, God. I’m scared. I’m not ready to give birth and be a mother. I’m not ready to do what you’ve called me to. I don’t know how to be the mother of the messiah, to raise him up right and then to let him go when the time comes. I don’t know how I’m going to bear all those things happening, and I don’t even know how I’m going to get through the next few days, but I trust you. God, we trust you. We can’t do any of this without you. Thank you for choosing me—for choosing both of us. I praise you for that. Now help us. Help me. Be with me, and help me be strong.”

Joseph stroked my hair. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”

I joined him, and we finished the Psalm together.

“He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil,
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.”

So I’m still annoyed at Caesar, still cold and sore and tired, but God will be with us. Bethlehem’s only two days away. We’ll find a nice quiet room where I can rest. This little messiahling isn’t going to wait much longer!



Micah 5:2
Luke 2:1-5
Isaiah 53:4-5
Psalm 23:1-6


1 comments:

Mackenzie Evans Marts said...

this was the best one yet. Showing them praying together was beautiful. :)