Joey collapsed on his bed exhausted and sweaty. What an awesome day. For Joey, nothing matches the feeling of beads of sweat pouring down his neck and the bright sun beating on his back. He loves his life, working in the rice fields each day with his dad. He loves the lush green fields and bounding hills of his little village outside the city. It’s beautiful outside, and working hard is so fulfilling. Today was a long day of hard work, but Joey was satisfied. Without realizing it, he quickly fell asleep.
“Joey! Joey!” His mom called him.
Joey quickly jumped up, realizing he hadn’t showered yet. Glancing over to his phone he saw a new text message. Butterflies fluttered in his stomach. I hope it’s her, he thought. Life is so good. Just last night Joey asked this really pretty girl to marry him, and she said yes!! He can’t stop thinking about her and their future life together.
Joey scrambled to the shower, eating dinner quickly and collapsing back into bed, curled up with his cell phone ready to text her. No message. Hmm. Wonder what she’s up to tonight? Missing her deeply, Joey drifted off to sleep. BZZZZZ. BZZZZZ. BZZZZZZ. A flurry of text messages awoke him. As he read them his face turned white with shock. PREGNANT???!?! She’s pregnant?!? That’s not me!!! How? When? WHO??? Frustrated and angry, Joey slammed down the phone pacing around his room. The love of his life. How could she cheat on him. That’s it. It’s over.
It was already 11pm and Joey had a full day out on the fields tomorrow, he had to get some rest and just put this behind him. Exhausted physically and emotionally, Joey fell into a deep sleep. Now Joey is not much of a dreamer, but tonight was a strange night, and before long Joey was dreaming vividly. As he dreamed man walked in, kind of glowing, with a peaceful, loving demeanor about him. Strangely, Joey wasn’t afraid, but watched with curiosity. The man sat on Joey’s bed for a long while, finally reaching for Joey’s cell phone.
“Hey Joey,” the man said, “I heard you got some pretty rough news tonight. Your fiancé is pregnant?”
Joey, still afraid to speak, just nodded, a little freaked out that this guy knew so much.
“Relax.” the man said. “Don’t worry about it. Actually she didn’t cheat on you.”
Joey rolled his eyes. I wish, Joey thought.
“Serious!” Said the guy. “Go marry her. The Holy Spirit actually got her pregnant.”
Joey laughed. This was ridiculous.
“I’m serious! She’s having a boy.”
Joey at this point was shaking all over. Do I believe this? His mind was racing. Racing with excitement, disbelief. Could this be happening? Joey had read about this. Read the prophecies. Is it true? The man got up to leave Joey’s room.
“Oh yeah” he said, turning back around, “Your kid is going to save the world.”
Joey woke up suddenly. That dream was real. He knew it was. He quickly called his fiancé, and they talked on the phone late into the night, dreaming about their future together with their new baby boy. Apparently an angel had come to her too. Apparently it was all true.
Joey woke up the next morning, frightened, nervous, and confused about the future that laid in front of him. Somehow he had to explain to his parents that his fiancé was pregnant, that he didn’t do it, that it was all ok, and that his son would save the world? He gingerly walked out to the living room to see his parents watching the news. The President was making a big announcement.
“Everyone go home to your hometown! We are doing a count of the people. Anyone who does not go home will be held accountable to the Government.”
“Joey!” his father called. “You have to go to back for our family. You know your mom is very sick and would never make it there alive.”
“There’s no reason I can imagine for you not to go. End of discussion.”
Joey sank into his chair. In just 24 hours his entire world had turned upside down. He dreamed of the lush green fields and abounding hills that just yesterday he had found himself working in and enjoying immensely. Just one day later, and that seemed like the distant past.
As the months crawled by Joey prepared to leave, and his fiancé’s stomach had slowly grown. His parents were not pleased about it, not sure what to believe about all these crazy stories of angels and dreams, but right now there was a drought, their fields were suffering, Joey had to go back to their hometown, and they had bigger things to worry about. As the time for the census drew closer, Joey and his fiancé were really struggling to find money for transportation. Flying was out of the question. This census was driving ticket prices up, and the price was far more than Joey could afford. Train tickets were totally sold out, and the drought had forced Joey and his family to sell their car months ago.
“We are going to have to take the bus, my love.” Joey said to his fiancé. She was already 9 months pregnant, they were expecting their son any day now.
“Are you kidding me????” She said. “What if I have the baby on the bus?”
Joey was quiet. He didn’t want to take the bus either, but he saw no other choice. He had to go back to their hometown to keep his family and himself from being in trouble with the government.
The day finally came for Joey to get on that bus, and he was dreading it. Say goodbye to his mom and dad? To his beautiful home? The fields, hills and village that he loves so dearly? His dad struggled to let go of him, hugging him tightly before he left. He couldn’t even look at his mom, her face swollen with tears as she brought him to the bus stop.
“I love you mom and dad.” he sobbed, tears streaming down his own face.
The trip began alright, the bus was stuffy, humid, hot. Joey was snuggled next to his fiancé, protecting her from the others crammed in, but there were a lot of people crammed into that bus. Smelly, sweaty, rude people. The man next to Joey was smoking, the man behind him snoring loudly. Joey tried to sleep, but he was more concerned for his fiancé who could hardly sit without being in pain. Hours passed tossing and turning. Stand up, sit down. Stand up, sit down. Joey kept thinking about his dad, his mom, those lush green fields of his home and the ones he loved which he had left behind. Hungry, Joey, his fiancé and their bus finally stopped at a pit stop for a quick meal. Joey’s fiancé could hardly eat, she was acting uneasy. But Joey was starving. One day on the road was finished, but they still had two more days to go on this bumpy road.
Another long day, another long night.
“Are you ok?” Joey asked his fiancé.
Her face was pale and she looked in pain.
“I don’t feel too good,” she said.
“I think the baby is coming.”
Joey felt panic surge through is body. Here? On this bus? No can’t be.
“We are almost there. Just hang on my love ok?”
Joey did his best to make her comfortable on the hard wooden bus seat. The bumps seemed unending and the roads were getting even more curvy.
“C’mon get us outta here!” Joey was yelling at the driver.
EXIT HERE. The bus finally took the exit and got off the highway. The rain began to fall outside the bus and Joey was getting anxious as he saw his fiancé groaning in pain.
“SIR!!” He yelled again at the driver, “Please!! My fiancé is about to have a baby!! DRIVE FASTER!!!!!”
The driver, turning around realizing the situation immediately yelled, “Get out! I will not have a baby born on my bus.”
Surprised, bewildered and confused, Joey and his fiancé were pushed off the bus. By this time, it was pouring down rain.
Joey and his fiancé ran for cover under a gas station roof. Unsure what to do, Joey pulled out his cell phone to look for a place to stay. Battery 5%. Stay calm, he thought. Desperate, he did a search of all the local hotels and motels for any room available. There’s a baby coming! No search results. Booked. Every one? Dang this census is frustrating.
“C’mon” he said, “We gotta find you a place to have this baby.”
Joey’s calm demeanor didn’t match the panic and fear he felt inside. So much pressure and responsibility. Could he provide for his fiancé? Could he provide for this baby who would be the savior of the world? This was supposed to be a perfect, peaceful, “silent night”, but Joey felt anything but silent.
Joey hailed a cab, promising the driver a little extra if he lent them some towels. Hotel to hotel, motel to motel, they drove around. Drenched in rain and covered in mud, Joey practiced his best negotiating skills, begging, pleading for someone to let them have a room.
“Sorry, I wish I could help, but we are all full.”
Joey looked over at his beautiful fiancé with love and compassion. God please help us! He prayed with desperation.
Rain was still falling but night was falling too. Knock. Knock. Knock. He would not give up. He would go to every single hotel in that town if he had to. Joey imagined his mom and dad back in his precious village warm in their bed, looking out at the green fields. He missed them so much. A man answered the door.
“Please, do you have any rooms, please? We will take anything. My wife is about to have a baby.”
“Sorry sir,” the man answered, “I wish I could help, but we are full.”
“Please!” Joey pleaded, grasping the door before the man could close it. “I’m desperate!” He could feel tears welling up inside his eyes. “She is going to give birth any minute. I will take anything. The kitchen. The living room. We will sleep on the floor. Whatever you have we just need a roof over our heads. This is an emergency.”
“Wait a minute.” he said.
He shut the door. Joey stood there shivering. He looked back at his fiancé, sitting on the step of the motel groaning in pain. She didn’t seem to notice the mud caked on her feet and the wet hair stuck to her face. Yet somehow, Joey thought in that moment she looked more beautiful than ever.
The door opened again.
“Our rooms really are full,” the owner of the motel said, “but we take care of a few horses in the back. You can stay there if you want.”
Joey leaped for joy. “GREAT” he said.
Joey grabbed the hand of his fiancé and they raced to the back of the motel where the horses were. Joey quickly cleared out the animal droppings, leftover horse food, and gathered some hay for his fiancé to lay on. They were just in time, Joey’s fiancé was already writhing in pain and it was only minutes until the little baby boy would arrive.
Joey’s heart was beating so hard he thought it was going to come out of his chest. He looked over a the owner of the motel whose face was in shock. Joey guessed maybe he had never seen a baby born before.
“I….I….I’ll go get some towels or something,” the motel owner stuttered.
Joey smiled, “That’d be great.”
Joey looked over at his beautiful fiancé, and couldn’t stop smiling.
The occasion was anything but romantic. They were exhausted, covered in mud and horse poop, hungry and in a lot of pain. But this was the moment. And right then and there, the savior of the world was born. Joey looked over at his fiancé. She looked a little frightened.
“What’s wrong?” Joey asked.
“Where do I lay him?” she asked Joey. Just then the motel owner returned.
“I couldn’t find any towels, they are all being used. All we have are these scrap cloths.”
“That’s perfect,” said Joey.
Glancing around Joey spotted the box the motel owner usually used to feed the horses.
“Here,” Joey said, wrapping his new son in the scrap cloths. “A cradle fit for the Savior of the world.”
As Joey laid his new son into the box his mind once again drifted to his own parents, his home, the village he had left. Although he missed it, the peace that filled his heart far outweighed the longing he felt. God had called him on a new journey with a new family, and he was ready to take the step of faith and follow where ever that journey led.
“What do we call him?” Joey’s fiancé’s tender voice interrupted his thoughts.
“Immanuel. For God is with us.”