Jesus had His own Joe. This Joe accepted into his heart Someone Else's boy, taking Him to raise, as if He were his own. He crafted his little family out of a promise to trust that Someone Else, stepping out in faith that doing the right thing is always the right thing to do. So Joe trusted and guided and protected and instructed and loved and raised a Child not his own as if He were his own. My Joe did the same thing for me.
When Joe became family, someone else already had the name Dad; it was too great a stretch for seven-year-old me to give that name away again. I just kept calling him Joe. Over 30 years later this simple name is holy, sacred, and beautiful in my vocabulary. I can't think of a higher calling than to be a Joe for somebody. I'm just so thankful I got to be Joe's somebody.
What is it that walks through the door on Monday morning after Easter if not hope? Not the far away, fuzzy, sappy, and ultimately unreal kind. The hope Joe brought came with practical wisdom. My all-time favorite Joe-ism is: "Wish in one hand, spit in the other. See which one fills up the fastest." It would seem an aggravating thing to hear growing up. However the aggravation carries wisdom: Don't just stand there; think through the situation and come up with practical alternatives that could actually be accomiplished! He taught me that finding creative solutions and doing the hard work to make them a reality is always time well spent, always so much better than wishing. I guess he knew life could and would get crazy, but he gave us the ability to choose our response to the craziness rather than being swallowed up by it. Thus I learned circumstances did not automatically get the last word; circumstances could always be overcome.
I love that Joe taught me to ride a bike, running behind me until I could pedal solo without eating pavement. I love that Joe took me fishing, and showing me "good things come to those who wait." I love that Joe gave me my first allowance, teaching me the value of saving a dollar. I love that Joe gave me my first car, allowing me to buy his beloved '77 Cutlass Supreme Oldsmobile with the dollar I had saved. I love that Joe gave me my first hammer, filling my simple toolbox with the basics that could help me navigate my first college living space. I love that when I finally chose someone to marry, I married a man so much like the one who had raised me, someone who everyday gives of himself for another's good. I love that no matter how old I get Joe is always happy to see me and his hugs always feel like home.
Real Hope is like that. See, I think it took a while after the Resurrection for the disciples to realize that death and despair were not their true reality. They didn't automatically know that Jesus was no longer dead and the horror of seeing Him die naked on the cross was not the last word. They did not know Hope had spoken a surer word over their lives than the pain they felt. Instead, Hope has another way. It sneaks in quietly, taking its time to unfold, revealing itself gently, seeping quietly into the every day normal, until one day we wake up and realize the terrible that could have been, never came to fruition. God stepped in and did something so extraordinary while we weren't looking that the whole world changed in a second. But we have to slowly walk into this new reality, letting its goodness seep into our bones, slowly changing us from people of despair into people of joyful Hope. Because someday we will look back and consider what might have been, if Monday morning had not come into our lives the morning after Resurrection. Like me when I wonder what might have been if I hadn't been Joe's somebody. I'm just so thankful I got to be Joe's somebody.