Monday, December 10, 2012

Journey to Bethlehem

Spirit & Truth # 301
“Journey to Bethlehem
By Greg Smith

            Jack Kaplan is a man who has enjoyed considerable prosperity in life.  As the owner of a chain of franchise restaurants, he is used to having everything he wants.  He lives in the largest house, perched on the highest hill of his neighborhood.  His children attend one of the prestigious schools in his city, and he's been planning on taking his wife to Europe in the summer.  But due to a series of poor business decisions, Jack has finally accepted that he will no longer continue owning his restaurants.  He's uncertain as to how he can continue to afford to send his kids to the school they've been attending, and he's long since given up on the idea of Europe this year...or any year, for that matter.

            As hard as things are for Mr. Kaplan, things are more difficult for Clare Sidler, who is a waitress at one of Jack's restaurants.  Due to the owner's business problems, Clare has been laid off.  Now she has to go job hunting, but depression has begun to set in, crippling her ability to get out of the house and even look for employment.  Her family needs her to work, and she knows it.  But even mustering the energy to get out of bed in the morning takes all the energy she has.

            I wish I could tell you how Jack's story, or how Clare's story, ends.  The problem is that they haven't ended yet.  I can't wrap either of them up with a nice Christmas bow for you, because both Jack and Clare are waiting to see how their own stories turn out.  Times are uncertain for them, as they are for many these days.  

            Times were uncertain for Mary and Joseph as well.  Caught in an uncertain political time, they had to make an arduous journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be taxed.  The journey would have been difficult enough at any point in the pregnancy, but Mary was “great with child.”  Surely this slowed their travel so that by the time they reached Bethlehem there was no room in the village inn.  As Mary began to go into labor, there remained no place for her to deliver.  So they found a dirty cave outside of town that the villagers used for a stable.  There, with Joseph as the midwife, she delivered her baby.  Wrapping the child in old rags to protect Him from the cold, she held Him close and nursed Him til He slept.  

            We’ve all read the story, so we know how it turns out.  We know about the shepherds and angels, and the wise men with their gifts.  But, like Jack and Clare whose stories haven’t yet been finished, Mary and Joseph didn’t know how things would turn out.  To us, Christmas is a beautiful story.  To those who lived it, uncertainty ruled their hearts.  

            You may feel unstable today as well.  Fiscal cliffs, family troubles, friendship difficulties, or physical ailments cause uncertainty in your heart.  But when you have uncertain provisions, God gives a certain promise.  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”  Your story isn’t finished yet, but you can be sure that the Author knows how it ends.  And you can be certain that His plans for you involve blessing and hope.  Trust God for your future, and leave your worries to Him.

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