Episode #11 Walking a hard path – Hard AND Holy Christmas
From Today's Episode:
Welcome! We're in our Hard & Holy Christmas Series and today's topic is Walking A Hard Path.
What's something holy about this hard journey I'm on?
Here's the episode transcript
Hello! Thanks for joining me today as we spend a few minutes talking with God. He loves to spend time with us! Also, I thought I'd mention that we have a Christmas worship Spotify playlist here in the show notes that you're welcome to use in your times with him this month!
Personally, I've been spending a lot of time reading the gospels lately, specifically rereading the accounts of Christ's birth. Someday I hope to visit Israel, but not having visited there yet, and living in an entirely different time in the world, I have very little context for what this journey to Bethlehem was actually like for Mary and Joseph. However, I found driving 20 minutes in my temperature controlled adjustable seat SUV was often uncomfortable in my 3rd trimester, so I'm guessing it was a little rougher than that for Mary. Let's wonder about it for a minute though. After all, we are in our hard and holy Christmas series.
From scholarly accounts, the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was roughly 80 to 90 miles and included a lot of hills. Traveling an estimated 10-20 miles a day, they would have walked for four and a half days at the fastest, an unlikely rapid pace given Mary's condition. While I picture Mary riding a donkey for this journey, and it's likely she did for at least part of the journey, the gospels are quiet when it comes to describing her mode of transportation, the weather and food on the journey, and if they faced any outcast-like treatment for her condition. And traveling carried the danger of bandits and robbers in that time in the world, as we see referenced in the parable of the Good Samaritan. But that was the journey they found themselves on. Sure, Caesar Augustus had decreed a census, but the real reason Joseph and Mary found themselves walking along this hard path was that God had foretold of Christ's birth: he was to be born in Bethlehem.
As I was talking with God about this concept of hard journeys, I was struck with how common it is, for us to walk out a hard path from what's comfortable or familiar, to where we need to be.
Sometimes setting out is actually leaving home, adventuring out from our families house to the future God has for us. Other times it's leaving the place we've "lived" in our thought life, our habits, or unhealthy relationships. Sometimes it can feel like circumstances or even the choices of other people thrust us into a hard journey, like a census being called at the same time your pregnancy comes full term. But whether the journey we're on is part of God's good intended good plan, or he simply allowed it to take place, we know that he uses all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. (And that's Romans 8:28, if you want to check that out).
Personally, I'm on a hard journey right now. A few of them at the same time actually. So as I talked with God about this idea of long, rocky, treacherous paths, I found it so helpful to simply tell him what was hard about it. About the aspects I hate. About what hurts. About how I get tired. About what worries me. And then we started talking about how I know he's here, and the reliance I have on him to get me through the things I can't manage on my own. And I asked him to talk with me about what's holy. What's set apart for his intended use. What's sacred to him, and the holy work he is doing in me, if I could get just a glimpse more of him in it. That's become an ongoing conversation I'm having with him, and it is a sweet gift.
As you talk with God, I invite you to use these simple prompts as I did. Whatever hard journey you find yourself on right now, talk with God about it. If you feel like crying, or shouting, let it out. He can take it. Come to your conversation honestly. Then ask him, "God, I already know a lot of what's hard about the journey I'm on. What's something holy?" Then listen for what he says. The free journaling pages in the show notes may be uniquely helpful as you continue this dialogue with him. "God, I already know a lot of what's hard about the journey I'm on. What's something holy?" Have a good talk!
And if you've been encouraged by this content, please share it with a friend and help them grow in their conversational relationship with God too!
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