We don’t think a thing about it, other than the inconvenience, when we sit on an airplane for three hours. We board on one side of the country and exit the aircraft on the other side and don’t think much about the distance we’ve just traveled. I remember traveling home from the middle east for “R&R” from one of my deployments and it only took fourteen hours to go halfway around the globe (including stops).
Just think about how far and fast we travel, compared to fifty or even one hundred years ago. The Interstate Act of 1956 authorized the construction of a 41,000 miles interstate system that would crisscross the country. Even as a young child, there were places in Oklahoma where Interstate 40 had yet to be completed in the mid-60’s. Before the interstate system, driving the ’57 Belair coast to coast would have taken a few weeks.
Now consider fifty, sixty, or seventy years prior to the authorization of the interstates. Travel across the nation would have either been by wagon, train, or by boat in some cases. The internal combustion engine was a thing of the future, as well as the corner gas station!
Contemplating all the ways we have traveled over the last 120 years in this country, we forget in the early days of western expansion – we walked! Yes, there were covered wagons drawn by oxen, but people walked everywhere they went. Think about all the hardships that accompanied a family as they moved west across the nation in this manner. The world would not have been as small as it seems today.
Now, add in a late-term pregnancy and you really have issues. This was the situation Joseph was in. It was required that he take his bride-to-be from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the city of his ancestors – the city of David. A census was ordered, and they had to travel. On a good day, twenty miles was about the maximum amount of walking one could comfortably do. Add in a nine-month pregnancy and you’ve got real problems. The caravan they were traveling with for safety sake would have been slowed down, and the path they took would not have been a straight line. Considering terrain and the fact they would have avoided Samaria, the caravan probably covered in total about 90 to 100 miles.
On top of all the robbers and wild animals, Joseph and Mary would have been looked down upon, because of course everyone knew Mary was pregnant long before Joseph took her as his wife – they could count months too!
Even in their hardships, trials, and the treatment they received from others, both Mary and Joseph knew what was about to happen. They knew God was watching out for them, so they could overcome anything! Eventually, just as the Archangel had told them, Mary would give birth to the Messiah!
We all know people around us who are going through hardships during this season. Let God work through us to bless others and make their trip through Christmas time and life a little more blessed!