A Most Difficult Journey
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.”
—Luke 2:1–5 ESV
After years and years of annual Christmas pageants, we all know the story of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. What most pageants don’t truly convey, however, is the incredible difficulty of that trek. Mary and Joseph lived Nazareth, which is about four days’ journey by foot from Bethlehem. It was probably winter, if we believe second-century church tradition. Additionally, Mary was young and at the end of her pregnancy. I don’t know what would’ve caused more hardship for her: staying in Nazareth to face her scandal alone while Joseph made the necessary journey, or walking for four days heavy with child and likely very scared. And for Joseph, he had the options of leaving his betrothed wife behind when her baby was due any day or taking the responsibility of transporting her to Bethlehem safely and as comfortably as possible (if this was doable).
God never promised us that following him would be easy—and throughout the Bible, it’s illustrated over and over how emotionally trying and physically painful it can be.
We do have a promise from him, though:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified
because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
—Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV
God has awesome plans for our lives. But we have to trust him and give our lives over to him to before he can use us to our potential. God asked both Mary and Joseph to put a lot on the line by trusting him, and sometimes he asks us to do the same.
And in the end, he brings amazing things from our trust.
Walking with God may not be easy, and sometimes it is a most difficult journey, but the alternative is trying to navigate life without him—and for me, that’s more terrifying than anything He’ll ever ask of me.