I was an aggressive young journalist chasing the big story.

A young woman had come from Nazareth to Bethlehem with the man she’d pledged to marry. Obviously pregnant, she hadn’t let rumors about her unusual circumstances keep her from making the journey to register for tax purposes.

I always did extensive research before an interview, and I’d tracked every tip about these two individuals, Mary and Joseph, unexpectedly cast in the most significant drama in human history.

A relative, Elizabeth, confirmed Mary had visited her following a strange occurrence. An angel had appeared to Mary, a virgin betrothed to Joseph, announcing she would become pregnant by the Holy Ghost, and the child would be the Son of God.

How could that happen? A baby without a human father? Son of God? Could a skeptical journalist believe such preposterous claims?

In Bethlehem, humanity flooded the streets—droves pouring in from surrounding provinces to pay taxes. I overheard anxious conversations about a young woman who appeared ready to give birth. An innkeeper said the husband had asked about a room.

“No vacancy!” he said. He’d directed the weary travelers to a stable nearby but still seemed frustrated that he couldn’t provide a comfortable room.

Weaving through the commotion, I located the place and paused to consider how this incredible story might impact my career. I sensed an award-winner.

Without being offensive, I’d ask tough questions, starting with Joseph.

What were you thinking, making this journey with Mary so close to giving birth?

There’s a rumor that you did not father this child. Any comment?

Why should anyone believe that outrageous story about how Mary became pregnant?

I’ve heard the baby is the Son of God. What do you say?

Reviewing my notes I started to speak then seemed frozen in time.

Something about that historic night—dark yet bathed in brilliance. Something about that young mother—pained yet radiant with joy. Something about that adoring husband—humble yet exploding with pride. Something about that modest manger—rugged yet strangely reverent. Something about that holy child—helpless yet having authority.

An infant king lay wrapped in swaddling clothes. Enveloped in awe, I slipped away without disturbing the royal family.

Centuries later in my reality, I’d bow before that King, claiming him as Savior and Lord.

“…Give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

(See Luke 1:26-45; Luke 2:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25, John 1:14 NIV.)

(First published December 17, 2015 Christian Devotions. Revised and reprinted by permission www.christiandevotions.us.)

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned. She began writing at 18 when she landed her dream job, writing for her local newspaper, and wrote her first book at 24. She’s a member of Christian Authors Network, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

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By Dianne Barker

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” (Psalm 127:1NIV).

Got it. Unless the Lord does it, our best efforts will fail.

Synonyms for “vain” are ineffective, hopeless, unsuccessful, unproductive, futile, useless, worthless.

Why would anyone pursue such a life? Who gets up in the morning desiring your day’s work be ineffective, unsuccessful, unproductive, futile, useless, worthless?

We’re off and running, determined to achieve something significant. But if we’re trusting in our own wisdom and strength, our best efforts will be futile.

God created us for a purpose. The greatest disappointment in life is coming to the end of it, never having achieved the purpose for which we were created.

How do we discover God’s purpose?

I accepted Christ at seven and during teen years sensed a desire in my heart to write. At eighteen I landed my dream job writing for the local newspaper while attending college. Within a few weeks, I had my own weekly column. Being young, bold, and confident I had answers to life’s big questions, I often injected my Christian faith.

After finishing college, trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

There was no passion for anything else.

I joined the newspaper’s fulltime staff. Besides writing my column and news stories, I covered many religious events and evangelistic crusades. The Lord brought a host of celebrities across my path: Corrie ten Boom, Vance Havner, Bob Hope, Joan Crawford, Debbie Reynolds, Johnny Cash, Jerry Clower, and others. I shook hands with President Richard Nixon.

The newspaper sent me to Minneapolis to attend the School of Christian Writing, sponsored by Decision Magazine, founded by Billy Graham. I met Dr. Sherwood Wirt, founding editor, who became a friend and mentor.

A year later while covering Dr. Graham’s ten-day crusade in Knoxville, Tennessee, I reconnected with Dr. Wirt. Through his influence I was chosen to write a book about the crusade, Billy Graham in Big Orange Country—my first book at twenty-four.

Clebe McClary, a Vietnam hero from South Carolina, saw the book and asked me to write his story, Living Proof. Through Clebe I met Harold Morris and wrote his story, Twice Pardoned, first book for Focus on the Family Publishing and a 1986 national Christian bestseller.

That book (still available on Amazon, 1.5 million copies in print) surpassed my dreams.

God built the house! I simply followed Jesus, sensitive to impressions of my heart and opportunities he presented. He kept me close, whispering encouragement, whenever the path wound through disappointment and difficulty.

Have you grown weary pursuing dreams, only to slam into a stone wall? Pick yourself up and dare to dream again!

  • Pray, diligently seeking guidance from the Lord, and study his Word.
  • Be sensitive to desires of your heart.
  • Consider your natural talents and learn your spiritual gifts; often natural talents and spiritual gifts are related.
  • Ask godly friends for counsel. They may recognize abilities you haven’t seen and suggest opportunities you haven’t considered.
  • Use what you have and serve where you are. Don’t wait for something amazing to come along. Be faithful where God has placed you.

Your purpose on this earth at this moment in time is to serve and glorify him. Stay as close to Jesus as you can get. He still calls disciples with a simple invitation. “Follow me.”

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Christian Authors Network, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

 

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By Dianne Barker

I love a picnic! I approach most days with the same excitement and expectation, as if loading my picnic basket for a fun adventure. Before the day’s over, I’ve encountered a disaster…or several. The washer floods our basement. A hit-and-run driver bumps my parked car. Stuff to deal with. Read More →

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Dianne Barker

Dianne Barker

Dianne Barker here with encouragement for your journey.

I don’t love disappointments, delays, or detours. Life would be sweet if we could just go our well-planned way, checking off finished projects one by one. But unwelcome interruptions are reality. I wasted a lot of life fretting and grumbling, allowing circumstances to disturb my peace and steal my joy. Not any more! Read More →

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Living a Ten-Talents-Plus Life — Dianne Barker here with encouragement for your day. Recently I wrote about the parable of the talents—such a familiar story that I sometimes trivialize its impact. Reading the story again (Matthew 25:14-30) gave me fresh inspiration to live a ten-talents-plus life. Read More →

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