On the surface journey is a simple word. Basically, defined as “an act of traveling from one place to another”.
In our modern journey we sometimes take the journey for granted. With our modern automobiles and roads, we can travel hundreds of miles in a single day. We view the journey as the necessity of getting to our destination. Grandmas for Christmas, the beach, the mountains to just name a few.
But I often think of the Apostle Paul and his missions. Biblical scholars agree Paul would have travelled over 10,000 miles for his work, and all of it by foot or by boat. The walks were not necessarily easy. Paul speaks of many of the dangers in 2 Corinthians 11:25-27.
Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
This time of year, our attention and focus is on the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we know Mary and Joseph had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the required census. Their journey was about 70 miles and would have been by foot and donkey. Mary was very late in her pregnancy, so it was unlikely they journeyed more than 10 miles a day. They probably did not travel the most direct route because much of the journey was likely through Samaria, which was not friendly to Jews. They also would have experienced many of the same dangers that Paul spoke of in the earlier passage.
I’d like to finish with a reference to our journey in faith. Our destination is to become closer to God with all our deeds and actions. The Labyrinth (shown below) is a wonderful representation of this journey. The beauty of the labyrinth is if you continue to move forward you will not get trapped or have to retreat, which is different than a maze. Picture God in the center of the labyrinth. As you travel you will get closer then farther away from God on your faith journey, but if you proceed straight ahead towards God you will always get to God. We should remember this in our personal journeys.
Blessings and peace to everyone this Christmas season.