Jake Frost considers what a walk of faith parenthood is.
This Advent season I am experiencing unexpected blessings. My wife and I already have four wonderful blessings, currently in grades two through eight, and now—after many years—we have another on the way.
We had our first four children in five years, with our first child born before our first wedding anniversary. And through those years we also had multiple job changes and moves back and forth across the country.
I’m glad we took lots of photos—and even more glad we put them in albums—because much of those years is a blur now: too much action happening too fast with too little sleep.
To be now embarking anew on the adventure of parenthood, after the passage of so many years, and especially during the season of Advent, it strikes me more than ever what a walk of faith parenthood is.
These are troubled times, yet God created a new child and is sending His child into the world now, even with all its turmoil. What’s the plan for this new child? For our family? For the world?
We don’t know.
We don’t know yet who this child will be or how this journey will unfold. We can only give our fiat to God, embrace God’s surprising plan for us with gratitude and joy, and, whatever that plan may be, trust that, as Saint John Henry Newman said, God knows what He is about.
It’s enough to know there is a plan, and to know Whose plan it is.
Like Mary and Joseph, we’ll find out the rest as we walk the road to Bethlehem.
Mary and Joseph were also called to welcome a Child into a troubled world. Scripture tells us they had surprises along their way.
First was the surprise of the Child.
Both gave their fiat, Mary at the Annunciation by the angel Gabriel, and Joseph at the annunciation made to him by an unnamed angel who came to him in a dream.
Both Mary and Joseph embraced the unknown, initially in being called to parent God’s Son, and then in being told to flee to Egypt in the middle of the night, and then later in being called out of Egypt back to Israel after Herod’s death, and probably in many more ways not recorded in Scripture.
Mary and Joseph also had to navigate job changes and moves back and forth across the country.
Through the uncertainty they relied day-by-day on the Lord for their daily bread. They were a turtle-dove family, who offered the sacrifice of a pair of turtle doves and two young pigeons when presenting Jesus in the temple, the sacrifice prescribed for families who could not afford a lamb.
So they didn’t have the resources to rely on wealth and power; they had to rely on God.
This even though Joseph was a king—the true king of Israel, the king in hiding, the descendant and heir of David. But then the great king David himself began life in humble circumstances. He was a shepherd, working with his hands, keeping watch over flocks in fields by night. A man of his hands, David also played the lyre and wrote songs to God, leaving us the wonderful psalms that we still sing today.
Perhaps while David was a shepherd, he whiled away the cold hours of night writing songs and singing praises to God around a campfire. Maybe the angels’ memories of those songs, sung in the hills of Bethlehem centuries before, were in their minds when the angels came to other shepherds tending flocks in fields at night that cold December day when Christ was born in the City of David in Judea.
I have to admit I’ve had moments of worry since learning about our unexpected blessing. I worry about the baby and about the world the baby will be born into. I also worry about myself and wonder if I’ll still be able to handle nights without sleep!
But in Advent, thinking back to all God has done, and the surprising ways He’s done it, I can’t help but think worry needs to be put aside. It’s not a proper response in the face of God’s Providence.
Especially with all the examples the Bible furnishes us of so many of God’s great works that began with the birth of a child, from Isaac born to Sarah and Abraham, Jacob born to Rebekah, Joseph born to Rachel, the births of Moses, Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist, and the greatest gift of all: the Child of Christmas morning.
Even in the Garden of Eden, after the great rift was torn and history forever altered, what was the message God came into the Garden to deliver? A Child will be born.
Who would have expected the mighty, Earth-changing works of God to begin with the birth of a little baby? If it was armies of angels, fires and floods, lighting and earthquakes, we could see that. But a baby?
But God surprises us. So much so that sometimes upon learning of His plans we hide behind a curtain and laugh because we think it cannot possibly be so.
But with God, nothing is impossible.
And all us parents can take heart, realizing what a calling we have, realizing how many of God’s greatest works begin in a home, with parents welcoming a child. What a gift that He would call us into those works, invite us to participate with Him in His mighty deeds that reshape the world, and even entrust us with His most precious treasures: His children.
So this Advent I’m trying to put away worry and embrace the joy of the journey to Bethlehem, with all its unknowns.
Our Lady and her husband, Saint Joseph, show us the proper response to God’s plans: trust in God, a heart open and willing to embrace God’s will—the same response their Son showed in the Garden of Gethsemane: not my will, but Your will be done.
There is a plan. Our calling is not to know the plan or foresee how it will unfold, but to be faithful to the One who is bringing it to be, in surprising ways, even using such unlikely instruments as you and me, even beginning in such unlikely ways as the birth of a baby.
Copyright 2022 Jake Frost
About the Author
Jake Frost is a husband, father of five, attorney, and author of seven books, including the fantasy novel The Light of Caliburn (winner of an honorable mention from the Catholic Media Association), collections of humorous family stories ( Catholic Dad and Catholic Dad 2), poetry (most recently the award winning Wings Upon the Unseen Gust), and a children’s book he also illustrated, The Happy Jar.