Sleigh Ride VS Donkey Ride
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 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. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:1-20 (NIV)
This is the part of the story that is most like the Christmas movies that I have been watching since October. This is the part where the main character(s) go on a trip (for business, not pleasure), get stuck, essentially have nowhere to go, and meet a bunch of super friendly and overly hospitable people. This is the part of the story where their lives are changed forever. I have been on plenty of road trips, plenty of bad road trips at that. I’ve had brakes go out, tires blow, head on collisions (all different trips, by the way), and just generally overall bad trips. I’ve even had unfortunate road trips while pregnant. But the vehicles were always at least comfortable, and I had a bed waiting for me to crawl into at the end of it. Forget vintage trucks or sleigh rides or anything convenient, the mode of transportation for Mary and Joseph was a donkey. Mary didn’t just ride on a donkey; she rode the donkey for four or five days while she was nine months pregnant. I have heard a lot of old wives’ tales about inducing labor and I’m shocked that riding a donkey has not made the list. Is it really that big of a surprise that after the stress of travel, the bumpy journey on the back of an animal, and how far along she was, she went into labor? Not really. Here’s another aspect that I did not find surprising: Joseph didn’t think that far ahead. Sure, he had probably made the trip before, and he may or may not have been able to find lodging. I am married to a wonderful man who, for the most part, is excellent at planning things. But on trips that he is familiar with, he tends to forget to consider the fact that I and/or our kids will be with him this time. He doesn’t always remember to factor in the number of times that we will need to stop for snacks, to use the restroom or to stop the screaming because a huge bug got into the car. I would guess that while Joseph himself would have been fine sleeping in a stable for the night, the thought of having his wife potentially birth their child in one never entered his mind. Auntie and Uncle have plenty of space, right? Unless the entire family is suddenly in town, which they were. So, let’s add to the fear of giving birth for the first time by having it happen outside in a stable, just the two of them and maybe the donkey.
Now here is another area where the Christmas movies line up with the birth of Christ, strangers show up out of nowhere and bring them all kinds of weird things that they’ve never had before. Remember all those big city people that end up in a small town and for some reason have never decorated a tree or had a certain kind of hot cocoa or Christmas cookie? It’s like that, but with frankincense and myrrh. That one trip changed their lives. It led to them never being the same after meeting that one person: the son of the Most High. He shall be called Jesus.
We have all found ourselves on a journey at some point in our lives. Rarely does that journey look the way we think it should, or even turn out the way that we expect it to. There are bumps in the road, roadblocks, unexpected stops. We get uncomfortable and complain about how the trip is going and vow to never do another trip like that again. But it’s a journey that God uses to change us forever. Mary and Joseph’s journey to meet their baby didn’t look the way they expected. What did your journey to meet Jesus Christ, son of the Most High, look like? How has He changed your life?
Have you ever taken a trip that did not turn out the way that you planned? ________________
What happened? In what way was it not what you expected?_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Looking back, would you change that experience? Why or why not? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Has there ever been a “journey” in life that God called you to that did not go the way that you anticipated?________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
What did you learn from those road bumps that you encountered? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Lord, we thank you that we don’t always see the end of the road when we begin our journey. We know that the unexpected things that happen along our way are the things that you use to grow us and equip us for the next part of our story. Thank you for being with us and walking beside us as we go. We are ready and willing to start walking in the direction you have called us to.
Join us later this week on our Send Help Podcast Friends Facebook group as we go live to discuss this weeks devotion with our community of women.