It’s a fascinating scene.
Mary, Joseph, and t-minus baby Jesus…navigating the tumultuous 90-mile terrain of Judea and uncertainty.
From a mangy donkey and chilly temperatures to the pirate, travel caravan, even wild boar potential, no question the journey into deliverance was labor in and of itself – a prime, if not, pinnacle example of near-term discomfort. And we’ve barely gotten to Bethlehem.
Yet, as I reflect more on the nativity story, Chapter 1 of the Incarnation, if you will, I can’t help but ponder some fresh perspectives courtesy of the past four months.
For instance, going back to Luke 1, while much attention was given to Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Zechariah’s silence, and their corporate stiff-arm to tradition, consider Elizabeth’s attitude.
“Now after this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant, and for five months she secluded herself completely, saying, “This is how the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor on me, to take away my disgrace among men.” ~ Luke 1:24-25
To me, this speaks volumes about Elizabeth, specifically her confidence in God’s plan despite public scorn and her physical limitations. While she could have sulked in sorrow hiding her faith with her visibility, by acknowledging God’s creative miracle, she embraced His sovereignty. Essentially, Elizabeth’s ‘Yes and Amen‘ was a declaration of God’s faithfulness as greater than her high-risk pregnancy – a baton she would pass to Mary as she cultivated the practice.
As Mary sings in v. 47-49…
“My soul magnifies and exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has looked [with loving care] on the humble state of His maidservant; for behold, from now on all generations will count me blessed and happy and favored by God!” ~ Luke 1:47-49
Again, note how “favor” is a word of overlap for Mary and Elizabeth. Paraphrasing their heartcries, we find Psalm 56:11 and 118:6:
Fast-forward to Luke 2 and we find this theme playing out for Mary and Joseph. Desperate for shelter, a midwife, and rest from their journey, the temptation to fear and fume could have easily broken their wills. Almost a century mile and no room (for what they needed) in the inns? I would have blown a gasket in Joseph’s shoes!
Still, despite the inconveniences and inhumanities, God’s prophecy reigned supreme divinely guiding Mary and Joseph to what they craved all along…
…a stable place.
Were the conditions rough with health hazards to enhance a high-risk pregnancy? Absolutely. But as God had done for months (and would do in the years following during their hiatus into Egypt), He provided what they needed to be delivered. And as word of mouth increased through divine revelations, Mary’s heart delighted all the more. As she had done from Gabriel’s announcement, she stored the precious promises of God in her heart so she could treasure them at their fulfillment. If that’s not a sign of radical trust in God’s provident protection, I don’t know what is.
Bottom line: On paper and in transit, the road from Nazareth to Bethlehem was anything but smooth; however, just like Mary and Joseph, we, too, have the opportunity to keep our eyes on the prize when unexpected storylines emerge.
Even when God’s execution seems far from ideal, His heart always seeks to strengthen and sharpen our awareness to His Immanuel¹ presence.Tweet
Hence, the reason why we celebrate this season: To commemorate God’s light within His love and to say ‘thank you’ for relentlessly pursuing us.
As for you, my friends, you may feel hard-pressed on every side, drained on the heels of a long year, or hopeless despite your desire to delight in the Lord…
…however, in the end, He’s still there, a star on the horizon of whatever we’re going through…
…shining light on what ultimately matters amidst the chaos.
Together, we will get there.
Until then, selah…and Merry Christmas!
~ Cameron & Lyssah Fry
Cover photo creds: Pinterest
- i.e. “God with us”