LUKE’S CHRISTMAS GOSPEL OF JESUS: A 30-Day Christmas-Time Devotional.
Leaving and Cleaving.
Luke 2: 5 (MsgB)
 He (Joseph) went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.
“Haven’t you read, that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female? For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Jesus of Nazareth. Matthew 19: 4-6
‘Leaving and cleaving’ is the term sometimes used to describe God’s holy mystery surrounding a successful, God-blessed marriage.
Over the years, as Sandy and I have worked with countless couples, preparing them for their trek into this challenging endeavor we call marriage, we always try to remind folks of how very important it is for each person to willingly step away from their former life (leaving) in order to be truly successful in their new life together as a married couple (cleaving).
As we see it, in order for a new marriage to really work, both the new bride and groom need to increasingly let go of their old lives as individuals, letting them die away, in order for their new life together to come forth and become truly successful. For so many, that ability to truly let our pasts die is so difficult. And, while I don’t claim to be a psychologist, I do believe this is true primarily because so many of us are unfortunately heavily co-dependent with our past.
Whether our personal histories are good, bad, or ugly, each of us live so much of our present-day reality by drawing from memories from the past. And while there might be a handful of times we can pull a pocketful of productive life resources out of our past experiences, there are thousands more where past relationships have been more broken than good, leaving us crippled in our ability to bring new life out of our old wounds. So, when Jesus quotes the Old Testament instructions for marriage as being a separation from parents, he’s actually addressing the greater importance of our leaving ‘the past in the past’ so the ‘now’ of our new life in Him can come forth as God intends.
As I read Luke’s Christmas story, I’m struck by the ability these two young people (Mary and Joseph) had in embracing the importance of ‘leaving and cleaving.’ While both probably had good childhood experiences, growing up in fairly healthy home environments, the fact is that when Mary announces she is pregnant outside of marriage, this puts a great amount of pressure on any relationship, even one that has been healthy up until that point.
But, despite this rough and rocky start that Mary and Joseph have prior to their marriage, it’s apparent from Luke’s writings that they both are highly determined to go forward together into their challenges of the unknown.
Think of it!
With Mary being pregnant during the early stages of her engagement, it’s doubtful that many of Mary or Joseph’s friends or family members were very understanding, let alone empathetic or highly supportive. It could very well be that their parents, being highly religious and devout people, were against Joseph’s decision to go forward with this marriage. It could be very likely that most of their immediate families had chosen to separate themselves completely from this newly engaged couple ‘with child.’
But, regardless of past experiences, Mary and Joseph decide to move forward together, pushing literally onward and upward through tough circumstances and unsettling times. Once again we see the inner strength and integrity of these two young followers of God, who were willing to ‘leave and cleave’ whenever God directed them either by earthly circumstances (like this government-decreed census) or by holy revelation (dreams and visions).
May we be equally faithful to follow God as He directs our path.
My prayer: Thank You, God, for the reminder that there comes a time in our lives when we need to ‘leave’ our past, ‘cleave’ to You, and move forward in the God-directed path You have charted out for us. Like Joseph and Mary, strengthen me to move beyond past wounds, looking to the blessings of walking with you today. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Where have I allowed the past to control the present? Whether it is in my marriage, or other aspects of my life, how do I need to ‘leave’ the past in order to ‘cleave’ to the present, allowing the Holy Spirit to take advantage of the newness I have in Christ Jesus?
So what is God speaking to you today? Are you practicing the Kingdom presence of God?
We hope you’ll enjoy these 30 blogs that walk you through 30 days of Advent (Nov 26 – Dec 25). Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
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