When I was young, the idea of businessmen traveling around the country (or around the world) seemed pretty neat. Dressed in suits and carrying briefcases, they got to go places and do important things (at least, that’s what it looks like on TV).
One day, I found that I had become one of those businessmen. Perhaps it was while I was speed-walking through Concourse F at O’Hare, or waiting in the terminal of a rural, single-runway airport, but at some point I realized that for all the perceived glamour (and the legitimate perks, like getting to see new places), travel wasn’t really that great.
Today, I rarely wear a suit, and am more likely to be traveling with family than going on a business trip. However, as air travel has become more complicated with new security rules, and driving is punctuated by perpetual construction zones, I do not currently subscribe to the principle that “Getting there is half the fun”.
In that light, consider the following verses, which are a well-known part of the account of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem (often read during Christmas-season messages and pageants).
And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
Luke 2:4-5 NLT
Just like today, I suspect that travel in the past had its share of challenges. Joseph and Mary didn’t have to shop online for bus or plane tickets, nor did they need to stop for gasoline along the way. Still, I’m pretty sure that portions of their trip were uncomfortable, tedious, and perhaps even dangerous.
Beyond that was the frustration of being away from the resources of home. Conveniences that we have in our normal dwelling place are no longer available on the road, where luggage is limited by space and cost. Our usual support network of neighbors and known retailers is replaced by the unknowns of a new location. Even simple things like knowing where to find a spare pillow or a power outlet are left behind when we leave home, leaving us to search for these things or ask for help when we need something that used to be readily accessible.
If you can imagine the face of a tired Joseph, standing in a modern hotel lobby with his extremely pregnant wife, hearing from the agent behind the desk that there are no open rooms, you can probably empathize with this new family’s situation. (Or, maybe you’ve been there, and the frustration is all too real.)
God still works great things, though, even when we are stuck in crazy circumstances. When your flight is canceled, or your vehicle breaks down on the road, or the kids have to go to the bathroom with no highway exits in sight, God’s plans aren’t foiled. Just as the Son of God was born in Bethlehem (miraculously fulfilling yet another prophecy) to a couple that was probably exhausted and irritated, God can do amazing things in your life and mine, even when we are well outside of the familiar and the safe.
So, the next time you run into a traffic jam in life (whether literal or figurative), take a deep breath. Consider what God might have prepared for that very moment, whether in showing you something new, blessing others around you, giving you a key experience to use later in life, or simply helping you trust in Him more completely. Trust Him that the path to success doesn’t always remain in the comforts of home, but sometimes requires a trip on the open road (or the not-so-friendly skies) to get to where God needs you to be. He’ll take care of things for you.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Romans 8:28 NLT
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.