Wednesday, December 24, 2008
A Christmas Reflection - The Journey
In the Bible, Luke reminds us about the time when Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Roman Empire.
This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for.
And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David's ancient home.
He travelled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee.
He went with Mary, his fiancee, who was pregnant.
Imagine if the governments of today were to have a world-wide census, compelling every grownup to return to their hometown or city for a count of the population.
Most of us, if not all, would call it illogical, absurd and inappropriate!
Equally; you can just imagine the journey as Mary and Joseph shared their emotion - perhaps even making complaining remarks or noises under their breath!
__O for a simple enrolment online, and they needn't have made the journey! Yet, the Internet age was for another millennium to come!__
Looking at the sequence of events; try to picture the 90 mile cross-country journey to Bethlehem.
At this point in time, folks travelled by foot or on an animal or cart.
Achieving heights of about 1,312 feet; Joseph probably walked the extended curves and turns of the mountain trail - accompanied by Mary, who we assume was riding side-saddle on a donkey.
The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem could have taken more than a week by foot. They would have travelled over rough tracks with the danger of predatory animals, and the threat of aggressive and violent young criminals.
In such conditions, folks often travelled in groups for their own safety and protection.
As a consequence, the journey was characterized by toilsome endeavour to the point of exhaustion - especially physical effort - probably depleting them of strength and energy!
Meanwhile, way back in Nazareth; the young couple had left all that they knew behind; Everything that was normal - the everyday experience - common and ordinary - not strange.
All the same, the approaching times for the young couple were unclear.
Not only did they have little money or few possessions, but they were lacking experience of life.
For instance, when they got to Bethlehem, what were they to do? Where were they to temporarily reside? How long for?
__A cosy over-night boardinghouse with a continental breakfast was unheard of! A five star motel room with en-suite hadn't reached the hills of Judea in those days!__
The emerging times were accompanied by painful expectation and stress.
But there was good news ahead.
In a restful manner, gently behind the scenes, God was working His purposes out.
Through the actions of this couple, God's rescue plan for a lost world was being completed to perfection.
Obviously, history and God's Word the Bible reveal this to us today. But for this young couple, the future appeared to be uncertain.
And in their state, lacking assurance, they had to learn to trust.
Today; there is an unquestionable truth for us to comprehend.
For many folk, whether the events in this present day appear unusually great in size or microscopic, often the changes are hard to bear.
Yet, as we go through these experiences in our lives, God is working His purposes out.
Simply because we face hardships and hindrances in life, does not mean that God has abandoned us! No doubt about it, we all face difficulties in life. But then, He encourages, empowers and enables us to act on His great plan and purpose for our lives.
Here and now; in these uncertain times, God asks you and I or anyone - to trust Him from the bottom of our heart.
He points the way forward, and encourages us to have complete confidence in Him.
For this reason, let's try not to figure out everything on our own.
Let's listen for His voice in everything we do, everywhere we go, because He's The One who will keep us on track.
We mustn't assume that we know it all - but we know The One who does!
As we trust Him; He will bless us with a future filled with hope - a future of success, not of suffering!
God's unfailing love surrounds the folk who trust in Him.
May the approaching days bring for all of us peace and prosperity.