What actually happened between the time of the decree to go and register and Mary and Joseph finally arriving in Bethlehem is only speculation. Perhaps it was like this.
Here is my version of this story. Settle in, grab a hot java or warm eggnog, snuggle up with your favorite person and read this one out loud.
Galilee was buzzing with the news. Every one – every person was required by law to go to their place of origin and register for the nationwide census.
Plans were made. Belongings were packed. Food was properly cured, stored, wrapped and preserved for the trip, and perhaps lists were made of all of the caravans that would be coming through Galilee and on which days so that those who wanted could join up.
Joseph made their trip arrangements while Mary took care of their provisions. He selected Zek’s caravan. He knew him from the village and had made a few benches and trunks for Zek’s wagons. At least they would be in the company of friends and trusted travelers for their eighty-mile trek.
The average man could walk about 20 miles a day, so this journey was a journey of four days.
The day came and the journey began. There was a lot of joviality and excited conversations as they began. The countryside slowly eased past as they trudged along.
Mary had to make a few more stops than the average woman, due to her condition, and after the first night Zek pulled Joseph aside and told him the unfortunate news.
“Tomorrow, we’ve gonna have to go ahead. You and Mary are holding us up. I’m sorry.”
Mary tried to bear up bravely, but the journey, the donkey and her pregnancy was no match for the rapid pace the caravan took.
True to his word, on the second morning Zek moved on ahead leaving Mary and Joseph in the dust of their trail.
Now alone, Joseph looked worried. How will we make it? What will I do if some bad sorts of men come along? Maybe we can join another caravan. I think I see some dust stirring behind us.
Other caravans came and went, and they all left Mary and Joseph eating the dust of their tracks.
Mary, however, was not perplexed. She had a promise. She had hope. The direct message from the angel was this: “the power of the most high will overshadow you.”
Yes, that message was for the miracle of the birth of her baby, and it was for the journey leading them to His birth.
In other words, as God often has said to others, “Be not afraid nor dismayed, for I the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
They missed the fun around the campfires of the caravan. They missed the shared meals; they missed Elisabeth’s special way with the standing rib roast, and the special sauté of onions, leeks, garlic, with roasted potatoes, and they missed the stories and laughter at night.
But they showed up in plenty of time and they were kept safe.
They had a rendezvous with destiny, and God got them there on time.
P Michael Biggs
One Word at a Time