As we enter this Christmas week during one of the most difficult years many of us have experienced, I want to take a moment to share a message I feel is important for each of us to consider as we approach turning the page of our calendars to a new year. In Psalm 25:4 TPT, we read:
Lord direct me throughout my journey so I can experience your plans for my life. Reveal the life-paths that are pleasing to you.
Have you ever experienced a journey that did not turn out the way you imagined? Perhaps it was a vacation trip, a move from one home to the next, a journey to spend time with your family over a holiday, or just 2020 in general! I am sure each of you reading this could share some examples of funny stories, but also sad, scary, strange, and eventful experiences.
The reality is that our lives are a series of experiences and events that make up our journey. So often, we get stuck in one leg of our journey and this prevents us from experiencing the fullness of all the plans the Lord has for us. As we contemplate that thought, I want to consider the life of Mary as an example.
The journey to Bethlehem for Mary was only one leg of her journey. This part of her journey is the one we remember the most, especially at this time of the year, yet there was so much more.
We don’t know much about her life before we learn that she was visited by Gabriel, the angel, who told her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus” (Luke 1:30-31).
Obviously, Mary’s journey prior to this moment had to be important since it caused her to find favor with God. As her dramatic story continues to unfold, she learns that she will face a journey with responsibility unlike any other woman in all of history. She was obedient to a life-path that was chosen for her above her own comfort and reputation.
When it was time for delivery, Mary was again in a remarkable predicament. While traveling to register for the census, the time came to give birth. There was no room in the inn, so she was forced to delivery baby Jesus in a stable and lay him in a manger (Luke 2:7-20).
The journey to Bethlehem was just part of Mary’s journey. After Jesus’ birth, she was faced with the next challenge, which was the need to go into hiding because Herod wanted her child destroyed (Matthew 2:13). Mary was not able to return to her home because her journey was now dictated by the destiny of the child she bore. Wow! Her faithfulness to walk out her journey was essential for His purpose to be fulfilled!
Mary was the one who encouraged Jesus to perform His first miracle, turning water into wine (John 2:1-11). She must have been so proud as she observed Him heal the sick, multiply food for thousands, and raising the dead. She must have felt such concern when she watched as He was rejected, ridiculed, and falsely accused. Eventually she finds herself at one of the most difficult parts of her journey, the foot of the cross (John 19:25-27).
Can you even imagine a mother’s heart breaking in this moment? Her innocent Son suffered unbelievable agony as He bore stripes and died for all humanity, so we might have eternal life. Jesus was resurrected three days later, but not long after He ascended into heaven. I am sure Mary missed her Son. Mary was an amazing woman. She walked a difficult journey, but one that benefited us all. She went where none had gone before. Where would we be if she had refused? Jesus fulfilled the journey He was given on this earth, partly because Mary was faithful to hers.
During the Christmas season, we celebrate the glory of God that came to us first through a baby and now exist among us in the form of the Holy Spirit. This glory enables us to walk the journey that God created for each of us to travel.
At times, our human strength is gone and our willingness to persevere the challenges life brings wears thin. There was a process between the prediction Gabriel gave of Jesus’ birth and the promise of his death and resurrection that provides us the opportunity for salvation. The same is true for us, we might call that process our journey.
I don’t know where you are on your journey, but just as Mary had a destiny to fulfill, so do we! We can let her amazing story inspire us to be a person of strength and rise to the challenges we face. We can willingly accept the journey that has been chosen for us and allow God to impower us to walk out every step of our destiny.