I wish I was one of those people who loved to travel. Don’t get me wrong. I love sight-seeing historical landmarks, hiking mountain trails and walking through ancient ruins, but I’m not what you call a world-traveler. I’m not a jet-setter. I’m not even a happy-camper.
In my lifetime, I’ve journeyed to New York more than once both for pleasure and for ministry. I’ve toured New England and crossed the border into Canada. I’ve flown across country to visit a cousin in California who drove me up and down scenic Highway 1 and around winding mountain roads to stand beneath the mighty redwoods. I’ve been to the Holy Land and walked where Jesus walked and to Greece where I stood on the Acropolis and listened to the wind sweep through the ancient columns. I’ve been to Disney World and even cruised around Mexico, but I still don’t like to travel. It’s not that I don’t like experiencing more of God’s big, beautiful world. I just don’t like the journey.
I can’t seem to put aside my fear of flying. I can’t rid myself of this awful curse of motion sickness. I can’t even get a good night’s sleep if I’m not sleeping in my own bed. The older I get, the less I want to leave the comfort of my home. Somehow, though, I don’t think God wants me to become a homebody. I think God’s got something in mind for me that includes the discomforts of all that traveling requires…the loneliness of days on the road, the weariness of sleepless nights, the restlessness of a queasy stomach, the helplessness as I face my fears.
I happen to believe there’s a Bethlehem Road we all have to travel. Forced by Roman law to leave the comfort and familiarity of their home in Nazareth, Mary and Joseph journeyed over a hundred miles to Bethlehem to fulfill God’s plan and purpose for Jesus’ birth. It wasn’t an easy journey. They traveled on foot…Mary on the back of a donkey and very pregnant. (I’m sure she experienced a few bouts of motion sickness.) They slept under the stars every night of the journey…on a cold, hard ground. (I’m sure they experienced a few sleepless nights.) They fought off waves of fear…at the thought of raising the perfect Son of God. (I’m sure they wondered what in the world they would ever be able to teach the Omniscent One.)
Yet, the Bethlehem Road was the most important journey of Mary and Joseph’s lives because at the end of the road God performed the greatest miracle of all time. Jesus was born without the comforts of home, without a midwife, without family gathered around to share in the joy of His birth, without even a proper blanket for He was wrapped in swaddling cloths, long strips of linen wrapped around His body to keep Him still and quiet.
“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, placed Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:4-7
I’d say the loneliness of weeks on the road, the weariness of sleepless nights, the restlessness of a queasy stomach and the helplessness of their fears was worth it. To witness the miracle of Jesus’ birth, to hear the Son of God cry out with His first breath, to cradle the Hope for all mankind…oh, yes, it was worth it. The road to Bethlehem with all it’s discomforts and potholes and uphill climbs was so worth bringing the Savior into the world.
Wanna hear something wonderful? Miracles still happen at the end of the Bethlehem Road.
As I approach yet another year in my faith journey I wonder just what lies ahead. Sure, there will be potholes to avoid, mountains to climb, starry nights to keep me company on sleepless nights and upset stomachs to pamper, but I’m convinced God is up to something new in my life. The birth of Jesus was a new beginning for God’s people and Mary and Joseph witnessed God work a mighty miracle in their lives. The journey to Bethlehem may have been difficult, but it was life-changing.
I’m believing God for a few miracles of my own. Since I have an active imagination I like to ponder things and I wonder…what if Mary and Joseph hadn’t obeyed God and taken the road to Bethlehem? As I sit at my computer and type this question tears pool in my eyes because I don’t even want to think about it. Life might be so different for all of us, but I also have to ask myself: What if I didn’t want to take the road God has mapped out for me in my own life? What if I choose a road that doesn’t lead to ‘Bethlehem’ where God wants to birth something new? What miracle would I miss out on?
I don’t know about you, but I want to see God work miracles in my life. I want to see Him birth change. I want to see Him create something new in my life. I may not always know where God is leading me, but I know He will never take me down a long and weary road if it won’t be worth it. I’d rather have a hundred sleepless nights and face a thousand fears as I journey through life than to miss the miracles waiting for me at the end of my Bethlehem Road.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll become a world-traveler after all. Maybe God will lift the curse of motion sickness. Maybe I’ll learn to love flying across friendly skies with God as my Pilot. Maybe I’ll sleep like a baby on unknown turf wrapped in the swaddling cloths of God’s protective arms.
Maybe…all I know is, I don’t want to miss out.