“In those days, a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.” (Luke 2:1-5)

Mary and Joseph were out of towners when they gave birth of Jesus.  The Roman Emperor Augustus had declared a census that required every individual to return to their hometown to be registered. Mary and Joseph packed their bags, left Nazareth, and headed to Bethlehem. They had to travel 90 miles to the city of Joseph’s ancestors: south along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem. It was a grueling trip.  The familiar pictures of Mary riding on a donkey with Joseph leading have become an iconic image at Christmas.  As God’s plan of salvation became a reality, it would require Mary and Joseph to move.  It would be a journey.

Discerning God’s will for our lives can be understood as a journey.  While there are times when God speaks very directly to us about a situation, like Moses at the burning bush, much of understanding God’s will takes time.  While Moses encountered God in a bush, it took a long time to reach that point in his life. 

Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel was just the beginning.  Babies aren’t born overnight, and her pregnancy would include the trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  While it was a literal journey that could be mapped out, I imagine that both Mary and Joseph felt as though they were on an inner journey with their lives as individuals and as a couple. Where would this journey take them as the soon-to-be parents of Jesus?  What did it mean for the rest of their lives?

Discernment is a journey.  It takes time.  There are good days when God’s will seems clear to us and other days when we feel as though we don’t have a clue about what is going on.  Faith is about trusting God while we are moving as well as when we are standing still.  Just as Mary and Joseph’s journey was trying at times, so too ours will be as well.  Yet, like these soon-to-be parents, we walk by faith, not by sight, trusting that God will bring to pass that which God desires in our lives.  

Prayer:  Help me to move when you call and to be still when you ask me to.  May my journey follow your leading.

Published by Dr. Philip W. Turner

Since 1991 I have had the joy of serving as Pastor of Pine Street Baptist Church in the community of Oregon Hill in Richmond, Virginia. The people I have met a long the way have inspired me in my daily ministry. I have truly been blessed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: