I am about to depart on a road trip. Before me is a journey of 1355 miles to celebrate Christmas with family. Moreover, I will see my third child married between Christmas and New Years. Wow, I am in for a series of celebrations!
My trip from Texas to California requires about 21 hours of travel by car. Since I enjoy the open road, especially at night, I often prefer driving versus flying . . . particularly during the holidays.
To the state troopers and highway patrol officers on Interstate 10, I’ll be the happy guy offering a tip of the cap and saying, “Merry Christmas” as I move over so you can pass.
Another Famous Road Trip
As I thought about my trip, another famous journey came to mind, that of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She had to travel about 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. And as most know, the journey occurred late in her pregnancy! Furthermore, She didn’t have the luxury that I will have—a modern automobile with plenty of creature features, and a modern, well-maintained highway to travel on.
History finds healthy, able-bodied people traveling about 20 miles per day in their time. Being late in her pregnancy, I doubt they would have made the journey in anything less than five days, possibly more. And the Bible is not clear how she traveled. We assume a donkey, but it isn’t mentioned. It could have been by a wealthy person’s camel, yet in all likelihood, it probably required some considerable walking.
Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone
Mary’s circumstances remind me that God calls us to do things outside of our comfort zone. Police work is filled with these circumstances. He does this for our growth while furthering his kingdom. Think about the things Mary endured.
- Being the one chosen to fulfill the 700 year-old prophecy of Isaiah, which said, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” which means God is with us (Isaiah 7:14).
- The stigma of an unwed pregnancy (especially in the culture of the day).
- Breaking the news to her fiancé, who planned to quietly break the engagement until he received a message to avoid doing so.
- The arduous travel.
- Giving birth in a manger. (There are many interpretations as to what this looked like. But the Bible does not give specific details.)
- The baby was going to be the Messiah, the Savior that God’s people had been waiting for.
Without going into a long testimony, God has taken me way out of my comfort zone following retirement from police work. Absent the certainty of life everlasting, the apostle Paul said, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’” (1 Corinthians 15:32b).
I feel the same way. If I wasn’t certain that real life begins at my physical death, I might pass my time living on a Bohemian Island, drinking Pina Colada’s, and singing, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
God’s Guiding Hand
Yet, I believe God has his guiding hand on my life, so I will do as Mary did, and Paul later wrote, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
So, I extend “Merry Christmas” with a lesson for all of us from Mary’s Christmas!