Sometimes life takes a turn without your permission, and there’s no going back. Mary and Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem was one of those times. It didn’t matter she was near to delivery; the enrolment and taxation were required. It didn’t matter she had to ride a donkey; it was their only means of transport. No one cared about no room in the inn; the stable would have to suffice. Their camel train began at the announcement of the angels. Now, Mary and Joseph must keep moving forward in obedient faith.
When life takes this type of course, we are best to do the same. Elizabeth Elliot wrote, “A quiet heart is content with what God gives. It is enough. Our enemy delights in disquieting us. Our Saviour and Helper delights in quieting us.” I don’t know if Mary’s heart was quiet. I trust it was. I trust she had not only surrendered her will but her emotions, also. And the same with Joseph. He needed a quiet and surrendered heart to fulfil God’s directive. Throwing up his arms in disgust and running away would not do. They were on the proverbial camel train, and they had to ride it to the end.
“A close and fretful inquiry into how spiritual things work is an exercise in futility,” Elizabeth Elliot also wrote. As for Mary and Joseph, their time of inquiry was behind them. They had already committed to obeying and knew they were a part of the salvation of the Lord. We, too, are best to realise God knows every detail of our future. We need not worry or look for things to worry about. That is pointless. That is not faith.
A few years ago, I received a diagnosis of cancer. As I approached surgery and treatments, a friend of mine said, “Don’t fuss, you gotta ride the camel train to the end.” She was so right. No amount of fretting or trying to figure things out changed anything. No amount of soul-searching or spiritualizing made any difference.
I set my heart steadfastly to the journey and knew my good, good Father was by my side. I sang, and I prayed. He didn’t leave me without comfort and assurance. He gave me His word—one particular word—notwithstanding. (Not matter what) 2 Timothy 4:17, “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.” I claimed His promise as I rode my camel train all the way to the end with a positive outcome.
No doubt, Mary, as she pondered in her heart, was graced with the Father’s comfort and assurance. Each event, the arrival of the shepherds, the songs of the angels, and the spirit of God, reaffirmed her faith. The baby was born, but for her, the journey had not yet ended.
Dear friend, if you are facing a difficult time, I pray you draw from Mary’s example. She submitted her will and quieted her heart to the Lord’s sovereignty. She looked for the activity of the hand of God around her and rested in His comfort and word. She set her eyes on the promises given especially to her and rode her camel train with dignity and faith—notwithstanding.
And what did she get for her trouble? God highly favored her, and her example still shines each Christmas as she rides that camel train again through our retelling of the nativity.
I pray Christmas finds you with a quiet heart, a peaceful mind, and a promise of comfort and assurance—no matter what trek your camel train takes!
Elizabeth Elliot, Keeping a Quiet Heart, pgs 19,20.