Mary, Joseph & a Donkey without MapQuest

Christmas Travelers

6myriams-fotos_pixabayWhich is harder to imagine?

  • A trip on a four-legged beast without heat, reclining seats or a radio?
  • Heading anywhere without MapQuest or Google Maps?

Complicate the scenario with a first-time, full-term pregnancy; a journey not for pleasure but required by unjust law; and an unspecified destination with no room reservations.

Joseph and Mary set out on their arduous journey with all of those complications in full play:

  • The supernatural pregnancy was not sought, expected, or fully comprehended. It was rife with social and relational challenges, stretching the couple’s faith in God and their commitment to each other.
  • The decree was unreasonable, inconvenient, and burdensome, ordered by a Godless Roman unjustly governing a land that belonged to the Jews.
  • They traveled to the town of Joseph’s lineage, knowing the route but no details—and without layette, bassinet, or midwife.

And, yet, the God who goes before them (and us) was present. Though the particulars of overbooked lodgings, an unsanitary delivery room, and a feeding-trough-cradle appall us, God had orchestrated those details, just as He orchestrates ours.

It may be that you’re also traveling an unfamiliar road, in trying circumstances, dealing with inadequate conditions. Be assured of this—God is present on the journey, covering the details, offering grace, and awaiting your arrival.

And, who knows? There may be angels, shepherds, and gift-bearers somewhere in your future.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Traveling: Destination Decisions

road-pixabay.com

Our next trip is to Lancaster—plowed fields, horse drawn buggies, and home-cooked meals with far too many carbs and calories. I’ve checked the forecast so I’ll know how to pack, made reservations in our favorite hotel, and purchased tickets for Sight & Sound. I can feel my body relax just thinking about it.

We choose a destination, make travel plans, and sketch out an itinerary. Or, we enroll for the course, apply for the job, make an offer on the house. We choose a church, prepare for a birth, cook for guests. We upsize and downsize, change cars and careers, watch our kids move out and our parents age out. Even when unseen, there’s change on the horizon, welcome and unwelcome, with disappointments and opportunities.

We’re always on a road to somewhere, traveling to a destination or toward a goal. What road are you now on? Is it long or short, bumpy or smooth, city traffic or country lane, toll road or scenic route? Are you happy to travel this road or longing for the trip to end?

It’s to our advantage to remember that life is merely a journey, not our destination. The many mini destinations of life are simply stops along the road to our final, great destiny, where the roads are gold, the water clear as crystal, and the neighborhoods vibrant. There are no detours, potholes, or disappointing accommodations. The food is great and the company even greater. There’s no crowding, no distress, and nothing holding us back.

So, pause in your earthly journey and remember your true destination. It puts life in perspective and makes current frustrations and disappointments tolerable. Psalm 84:5-7 always encourages me (emphases mine).

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka [weeping],
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

My friends, the path we’re now walking is part of a pilgrimage. By faith, let’s turn the places of weeping into life-giving springs and move from strength to strength—soon we’ll reach our ultimate destination and it will be worth the challenges we pass along the way.

Photo compliments of pixaby.com