I’ve never been a fan of driving in winter weather. But, I’m not “the guy” that drives 25 mph in the center lane. I’m also not the “other guy” that thinks he is somehow immune to the dangers of winter weather, weaving in and out of traffic at a rapid rate of speed. I’m somewhere in between.
Early one snowy morning, I was headed west on I-435. The rain had changed to snow with dropping temperatures. As I approached one of the bridges, I was shocked to see vehicles scattered all over the road.
Some had bumped into one another, some slid into the guardrail, and some were facing in the wrong direction! I immediately became guy number 1 and slowed to 25 lest, I too, became a causality of the ice. From what I could tell, everyone was okay, and it would not be safe, or even possible, for me to even stop.
Thankfully, I made it through the carnage and breathed a sigh of relief. Moments later, my vehicle began to slide counterclockwise. In a slow motion, dreamlike state, I watched my life flash before my eyes. My simple prayer was, “Lord, don’t let me go over the embankment.” I was out of control.
My vehicle did a complete 360 and came to rest just inches away from the guardrail--facing in the right direction! I said a prayer of thanks, regained my composure, and headed back on my journey—somewhere between guy number 1 and 2.
I’m guessing that Mary and Joseph felt out of control, too. The images displayed on Christmas cards make the nativity scene seem so peaceful and romantic. I don’t believe that’s the way it was for Mary and Joseph. More than likely, they were tired, confused, scared, and frustrated.
There’s a good chance that they had been publicly ridiculed and ostracized by the people who lived in their small village. After all, Mary, a young, teenage girl of about fourteen or so, was “great” with child. Who would believe that this “Child” was a product of God and that Mary was a virgin?
The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was about 90 miles. Uber was not a thing. Mary, in her third trimester, probably would have preferred to be home resting. But, because of a decree by Caesar Augustus, the journey had to be made.
Traditional images show Mary riding on a donkey. The Bible is silent on her mode of transportation. We do know that the terrain was treacherous. It was rocky and hilly with steep and rapid inclines and declines, filled with beasts and bandits.
Once safely in Bethlehem, they must have been frustrated when they learned there was no room at the inn. They settled for what they could get--a stable or possibly a cave. Then came that moment when Mary said, “Joseph, it’s time!”
The couple would have preferred that the baby be born in a more sanitary environment, surrounded by family. But the stable would have to do. There was also “no crib for a bed.” Jesus, God incarnate, was placed in a feeding trough. To Mary and Joseph, life seemed out of control and may have asked, “Where is God in all of this?”
Not only was God “in” this, but God preordained these events down to the smallest detail. Hundreds of years before, through the prophet Micah, God promised that His Son would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
The trip to Bethlehem was not an accident. The Divine Maestro, God Himself, orchestrated the melody and ensured that every note was in tune and in perfect time. As frustrating as the journey must have been, the census was not an accident or an inconvenience. It was divine providence.
During difficult times, when the winds of change blow us in every direction, we too ask, “Where is God?” as we grip the steering wheel for dear life. During these dark times, God may be silent, but He is not absent. He is working.
The fact that it is early December boggles my mind. For me, it seems that time has slowed down and sped up all at the same time. 2020 has been the longest, strangest, and scariest year for many of us. The worst part is, we don’t know when it’s going to end. It may be the year, like the Energizer Bunny, that just keeps going and going.
I have talked to many people who ask, “What will happen to our economy?”, “How will Christmas be for the little ones?” and “How will this pandemic affect our normal routine this Christmastime?”
I can’t answer any of these questions. And yet, in all of these questions, my response needs to be faith. I know that God is there, that He is love, and that He has not left or abandoned me. I just need to trust. You need to trust.
Two thousand years ago, a couple, headed toward Bethlehem felt out of control. It wasn’t the way they had planned it. It wasn’t what they chose. And yet, the virgin Mary was the vehicle that God chose to escort into the world the greatest gift of all: Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
God could have chosen to bring Jesus into the world any way that He wanted. He chose a difficult path for the couple and offered them no explanation. They trusted God and took Him at His Word. And from the ashes of pain and soil of despair, hope emerged. A light in the darkness.
God has a way of bringing beauty and harmony out of confusion and chaos while creating something magnificent, melodic, and fragrant. Our part in the story is to ride the wave and trust Him during the process.
Dr. Wayne Geiger is the Pastor of First Baptist Church Grain Valley, an Adjunct Professor of Speech, and a freelance writer.