ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF BETHLEHEM
Mary stirred. She had slept quite fitfully during the night. She thought of her home, her comfortable bed. The ground hadn’t been very forgiving to her aching body. She just couldn’t get comfortable. Joseph hadn’t slept much either, trying to do what he could to soften the place where she lay. In the middle of the night, during the hours that seemed to last interminably, he had taken his extra tunic and rolled it into a makeshift pillow in order to add extra cushioning to Mary’s resting place. It helped but only enough to enable her to doze.
“I know this isn’t very comfortable,” he whispered in her ear. “I’m sorry.” She nodded, touched by his kindness. “By tonight, we’ll be in Bethlehem and surely we will be sleeping at an Inn.”
With the hope of that in sight, Mary closed her eyes again. Joseph wondered about the day ahead. They still had miles to go and he could tell that the time of the baby’s birth was near. He felt alone and weighed down with the responsibility for their safety. He prayed silently, “Jehovah, God of our fathers, have mercy on us. Bring us safely to this new place. We know no one. I don’t have this all figured out. Mary is trusting me and I am trusting you! Let your presence move with us over these next hours.” He had a choice. He could rise early in the morning, faith in place, or nurse his fears. He took a deep breath, reviewed the stories of his ancestral fathers, and trusted God.
It might have appeared to Joseph that they were alone. It might have seemed as if their plans and their safety would be dependent upon his own ingenuity. He could not discern that God might be guiding his thought processes. God was the Father, just out of sight, ensuring the safe arrival of the Promise. He was the Father of the unborn child and to say that He was invested was putting it mildly. The redemptive plans of God, from before time, were about to break open upon Earth. Nothing would tamper with divine sovereignty.
My life has also been planned from before the creation of the world. God said so. My calling is as secure in God’s hands as the calling of Joseph and Mary. I can often feel the weight of responsibility, believing that I have more to do with determining my tomorrows than God does. I fear that my own ingenuity will make or break my future. Not so. The presence of God hovers over. His breath warms my way. The creator of my mind, the One who has made Himself at home in my Spirit, guides me into all truth. I cannot miss the way if I am prayerful, if I am listening.
My Bethlehem is always within reach; my roadway paved ahead of time by the index finger of God.