In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
~Luke 2:1-7But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
are only a small village among all the people of Judah.
Yet a ruler of Israel,
whose origins are in the distant past,
will come from you on my behalf.
The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies
until the woman in labor gives birth.
Then at last his fellow countrymen
will return from exile to their own land.
And he will stand to lead his flock with the LORD’S strength,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
Then his people will live there undisturbed,
for he will be highly honored around the world.
~Micah 5:2-4 (NLT)
Joseph and Mary were living in Nazareth, but the Roman census required that Joseph return to the home of his ancestors along with his family, in this case, Mary. Because Joseph descended from King David, he returned to Bethlehem, the city of David.
Perhaps Mary and Joseph thought this required travel was very poor timing indeed. After all, the journey must have been very difficult for Mary because of her pregnancy. And by leaving Nazareth, she not only left her home, but also her mother and women companions who normally would help her during her delivery. Now she is alone except for her husband, with whom has never been intimate, to assist her in her delivery. I wonder if the travel to Bethlehem seemed like a detour from God’s plan to her?
I once read that as many as 1 million people traveled to this small town of Bethlehem for the census. Imagine 1 million tired, irritable travelers, quite possibly upset because a census meant an increase in taxes. Not only are Mary and Joseph away from home for her delivery, but they are in the middle of a huge crowd of irritable strangers. If I were Mary, I’m sure I would question why God allowed the Roman emperor to interfere with His plan.
But instead of interfering, Caesar Augustus was actually an important part of God’s plan. Over 700 years before, the prophet Micah foretold of Jesus’ birth~in Bethlehem, not Nazareth. What seemed like a detour in the lives of Mary and Joseph was actually the exact route God planned for them.
Looking at my own life, I see that often the things that seemed like wrong turns or detours were the very things God wanted me to experience to prepare me for His future plans. I take great comfort that nothing is a surprise to God. He sees my past, present and future. As Romans 8:28 promises:
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
God doesn’t just react to the things in our life, they are already woven into His master plan, all working together for our good and His glory!
Breathe in His love…exhale all your struggles…
No matter what twists and turns your life may take~each step is already written into God’s plan.
1. Think about a detour in your life. How has God used it for His purpose?
2. What was your reaction at that time?
3. Is there something in your life today that you don’t understand? Could God be preparing you for something in the future?
Dear God~I am so grateful that You are in control of my life. Every moment is already woven into Your plan. I know that I have a tendency to question You and ask for understanding during each twist, turn and detour. Help me to trust You fully, walking each day, step-by-step, in faith. In Jesus’ name I pray…Amen!