Expecting The Unexpected
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town
of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called
Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of
David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling
clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them
in the inn.
I am doubting that Mary was expecting to have her baby while she was traveling with Joseph to Bethlehem. And I’m really pretty sure she was not expecting to have this baby in a manger. I’m sure she was just expecting a nice little excursion with her husband. Maybe eat some good food and definitely have a nice soft bed to sleep in!
But, things didn’t work out that way, now did they?
Things don’t always work out for our family when we are traveling either. I have come to expect (and even enjoy, usually) the unexpected things that come our way when we are away from our home.
Just a few weeks ago, we were at the University of Minnesota for our teenage daughter. She had presented a history project in a competition and advanced on to the state level. We had quite a bit of free time in between rounds and found ourselves strolling around the very beautiful campus. We came across a field with college kids running around in bright shirts and broomsticks. There were black circles sticking out of the ground. “I think they are playing Quidditch!” my 10 year shouted. And sure enough, they were playing Quidditch! We sat and watched for quite a while and even got a chance to talk to some of the kids playing. It was really one of the coolest things I have ever seen, especially since many of the Harry Potter characters were there as well.
Then there was the time we were in Omaha and decided to go for a walk near our downtown hotel. We came across roads closed off and people sitting on the curbs. After talking to a local police officer, we figured out that we had walked into a parade that was just about to begin! And not just any parade, a rodeo parade! Real cowboys! Real cowgirls! Candy! The kids were ecstatic!
Both of these things were totally unexpected but really brought great joy to our travels. Of course, the unexpected doesn’t always bring joy. Strep throat when we were traveling for a wedding. A flat tire or a car breaking down on the road. A baby being born unexpectedly. No room at the inn. These things bring challenges. I try to remember how Mary responded even when her trip turned out differently than she expected. She didn’t complain. She gave thanks to God in all things. What a role model!
I know that our pilgrimage will bring many, many unexpected things. Some of these will bring great joy. Some, I know will bring challenges. I am trying hard not to focus on those and keep my eyes towards heaven. I know that God will be with us as we travel, just as He was with Mary and Joseph as they were on their way to Bethlehem.
What unexpected things have you encountered during your travels?