Christmas Road to Bethlehem

Do you have a cherished keepsake from a parent or grandparent who has gone on to be with the Lord? I do. Years ago I took a trip to Israel. Before I left, my mother gave me cash to buy a nativity set when I visited Bethlehem. 

For a number of years during the holidays, I’ve passed by that sacred adornment on my hutch and thanked God for sending us Christ. But this year when I pass by, I will have more intense thoughts—a deeper and somewhat more “painful/joyful” connection with the reality of Christ coming to this earth.

So often when we consider the Christmas story, we envision Mary and Joseph giving birth to baby Jesus in a stable. However, I would imagine most of us overlook another part of the narrative. The road to Bethlehem was grueling. The journey was hazardous, strenuous. And moms, don’t forget: Mary was nine months pregnant!

So let me ask you. If you’ve given birth to a child, how did you feel when you were two weeks away from your due date? As for me, I did NOT feel like taking a 90-mile trip on a donkey during 32-degree rainy weather. I did NOT feel like traveling through a region fraught with wild boars, lions, and bears. I did NOT feel like facing the threat of robbers, bandits, and pirates of the desert. I imagine Mary entered Bethlehem at the very ragged end of endurance! 

I think we’d all agree this Christmas is like none other. Like Mary and Joseph, most of us are experiencing what it feels like to be at the ragged end of endurance: pandemic weariness, child worries, financial setbacks, mask suffocation, homeschooling madness, health alarms, and more. YES! Our faith has been tested! 

Yet through it all, I’ve been forced to actually get real with myself and ask this question, “Pam, who is Jesus REALLY to you? What do you most need HIM to be for you?” I’ll be honest. It took some digging to get there, but here’s what surfaced when I connected my deepest need to the willingness of Christ to fill it. 

JESUS IS MY HELPER. Yep, I need help. I need help keeping my eyes on HIM. I need help remaining strong for others. I need help staying positive. Isaiah 41:10 recently made it on a post-it-note on my bathroom mirror: “I will infuse you with strength and help you in every situation.”   I love that “every” word. 

JESUS IS MY KEEPER. I need the assurance that Jesus will watch over me and my family. Psalm 121:5 promises, “The Lord is your keeper who neither sleeps nor slumbers.” Just like I am the keeper over my children, the Lord is my keeper. In other words, this divine being who serves as my watchman always has a vigilant eye concerning my affairs. 

JESUS IS MY EVERYTHING. God’s Word says I have everything I need for life. It’s impossible to face anything where He is not able to see me through with victory, courage, and power! And though I might sometimes feel like I’m in the midst of “robbers, bandits, or pirates of the desert,” NOTHING is outside Christ’s jurisdiction to sustain me on the journey. Amen and amen!

This year my nativity scene is displayed with a welcomed message for all who pass by:

Jesus is my HELPER. Jesus is my KEEPER. Jesus is my EVERYTHING!

And isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas?

About Pam Kanaly   Read more by this author...

Aloha! I’m Pam Kanaly, President and co-founder of Arise Ministries. But actually, I think Arise found me wanting to bless single moms years ago. Ministry was never on my mind as a kid. All I wanted to be was a hula dancer. So Mother enrolled me in the tiny tots’ class. Guess God knew I'd have two grandbabies born in Hawaii. I love the great outdoors. You might even find me spending time with my husband grizzly bear watching or camping. In fact, it was on a turkey hunt that God gave me the name Arise Ministries in 2002. I suppose it’s a good thing that I majored in Grammar in college since I love to write words of encouragement to single moms.

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