Yesterday Dave and I hoped in the car and headed up to Chandler to have a family dinner and Christmas celebration with our daughters and their families. When we started out from home it was 34 and it took about 3 hours to get there. We did make a couple stops and traffic was heavy but not a bad trip at all. There have been other Christmases when we have traveled over snow covered passes on icy roads.
So I got to thinking about Mary and Joseph and the trip they made from Nazareth to Bethlehem, 155 kilometers or approximately 96 miles. This trip would have taken many days, walking or riding a donkey as is so often depicted.
“So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea. It was known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David. 5 Joseph registered with Mary because she was engaged to marry him. (She was now pregnant.) 6 While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have the baby. 7 She gave birth to her first son. She wrapped him up well and laid him in a box where cattle are fed. She put him there because the guest room was full.” Luke 2:4-7
If they were able to keep a steady pace of say, 20 miles per day, it would have taken at least 5 days, nights sleeping on the ground, cooking food over an open fire. I do love to camp, sleeping in a tent – being around a campfire under the stars but breaking camp each morning and setting up again each evening would be a bit tedious and then add to that the discomfort of being 9 months pregnant. Even the latest camping gear from Cabela’s wouldn’t make this an easy trip.
Amazing! You ladies know what it’s like in that last month – how about that last week. Not a time that you feel like going on a camping trip.
Dave and I used to travel a lot and it’s always nice to get to the hotel after 12 hours on the road, get something warm to eat and crawl into a nice bed. Aahhhhh! But when Mary and Joseph got to their destination their accommodations weren’t quite as welcoming.
Those of us who have had livestock know that even when we clean the stalls each day; removing the manure, putting down clean bedding, it still isn’t a place that we would like to give birth. No, it wouldn’t make it on my top 10 list. And Joseph was Mary’s delivery team – he was the midwife! Just the two of them bringing God’s Son into this earthly home.
Wow! “Think how much the Father loves us. He loves us so much that he lets us be called his children, as we truly are.” I John 3:1
God loved us so much that He sent His Son so that we could become His children. AMAZING!! But what if Mary had ignored the angel when he came to her and said she had been chosen to carry the Messiah. What if Joseph had not chosen to stay with Mary as her husband. What if they had not traveled to Bethlehem but had sent someone else to be their representatives.
What great love Mary and Joseph had for God and for each other to go through this difficult journey and less than “perfect” birthing experience and still they glorified God and gave Him thanks for His wondrous gift. Their obedience changed history.
Is your Christmas this year difficult? Not exactly what you had planned; when our hearts are open God can, and does, fill them with His wonderful love and gives us a reason to give thanks.