Before Bethlehem, there was the road. There was the dust and there were the jolting steps over rocks and ruts. There were deep ligaments pulling and joints aching and feet swelling and a husband drooping weary as he watched his bride wince and shift. I wonder what thoughts rolled in Mary’s mind as Life rolled in her womb.

Maybe the voice of the angel telling her not to be afraid.

Maybe the whispers and stares, people she’d known all her life who now refused to look her in the eye, believing shame was hers to own.

Maybe she was nervous about what lay ahead. She’d never had a baby before. And this wasn’t just any baby.

Or maybe a tangled combination of all of this ran circles in her head, the size of her feelings pushing at the edges of her heart as surely as the Baby growing in her was stretching her belly.

I wonder what their conversation was as the miles trundled on, this couple bound by a calling too big to understand. I wonder if they pondered just how costly their obedience to God’s plan might be, and if they imagined together what their boy’s future might hold.

I wonder if they knew that their daydreams could only brush the edges of what God was doing.

Every step down the road before Bethlehem was surrender.

Before the stable, there was the inn. There was the pleading for shelter, the shaking of heads, the closing of doors. There was the no, the foreshadowing of many rejections to come. There were the questions of what now and the leaving behind of what made sense to them so they could find the perfectly unlikely place for the Lamb of God to be born into our mess.

Before the manger, there was the labor. There were the groans, the muscles straining, the sweat, the blood. There was the girl needing her mama and the man pacing helpless circles. There was the wild-eyed pain more intense than anything Mary had ever known.

And then He was there.

God With Us, all slippery and new, gasping our air and stretching His tiny arms out against the night. All that came before and all that couldn’t yet be seen balanced there where eternity and time collided, and His curled little fists held it all.

Hope was already holding us that night.

Holding all our befores. Holding our weary selves as the road lays long and dusty, before we can see where it’s headed. He was already holding all the answers to our whys and all the purpose in our pain. His tiny fingers were already weaving every loose strand together, and He was already wrapping Himself around our fears and our needs. He is the God of what has already been and the God of the glory that’s still on its way. And with every surrendering step we take now, before the end of our stories, He is still God With Us.

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light – a light that will shine on all who live in the land where death casts its shadow… For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” ~Isaiah9:2,6 (NLT)


  1. Jean
    Dec 5, 2017

    I so enjoy your writings! Vivian is my friend from way back!

  2. nancy Begley
    Dec 5, 2017

    Thanks Beth for this glorious rendering of His Coming to earth.

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