Olivia Dear Thames
Advent: December 12
"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."
Thanks to the census, Mary and Joseph headed Bethlehem’s way.
Upward they went to this mountaintop town. Over 2,000 feet ascended Joseph and a very pregnant Mary. This journey took days—probably four or five. They likely had a donkey helping them on their trek, but nothing more, due to their modest means.
Can’t you just envision the exhaustion and fatigue? We have no record of their complaints during this trek, but I can’t imagine the journey was simple. I would have been cussing at approximately 100 feet.
Maybe this trek sounds like the past year you’ve experienced. A true incline. Confusion. Exhaustion and fatigue. Maybe some thoughts like, “God, I imagined things would be different. I prayed for things to be different. Yet here I am, trudging along.”
Isaiah 55:8 says, “'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” And earth-side, it can be confusing to understand why.
Why can’t I get the job I want? Why did my loved one have to pass away? Why can’t I shake this anxiety?
How I wish we possessed these answers. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to know? As we study Advent, though, what we find is that amidst our waiting, God is preparing. He's preparing us for things we can’t yet see.
What Mary and Joseph knew was that at the end of the journey, God would be glorified. Each ascending step and each uphill stride got Mary and Joseph closer to Bethlehem—closer to Jesus.
And I believe that with Christ, our earthly experiences have the power to do the same. Satan loves to make us feel more like Meredith Blake than Lewis and Clark, but there is a mountaintop: God's glory.
In that same passage in Isaiah, the Lord goes on: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
God proved His faithfulness by having Jesus be born in Bethlehem. This tiny town, this small detail in the story of our Redeemer’s birth, fulfilled Old Testament prophecies. It showed that God is a keeper of promises and sovereign over the details. This is the same case today.
Uphill you may head today—with your workday, with your schedule, with your broken family, with your diagnosis—but God is just as faithful on your trek as He was to Mary and Joseph’s Bethlehem-bound one. His thoughts are not our thoughts, but they're better. His ways are not our ways, but they're better. You might feel like Meredith Blake in whatever you're experiencing (I always feel like Meredith Blake), but you are not escalating without purpose.
This Advent, may we all find the hope that God that has not abandoned us but has uniquely and purposefully mapped out our roads ahead.