It was a cool foggy morning. We got out of bed well before the sun rose. Our caravan of vehicles headed for Cracker Barrel for one last breakfast with Jared and Rachel before we began our 3 day drive.The good-byes were heart wrenching. I was leaving a son behind. It was as it should be, he was independent and ready to meet the challenge on his own. But it was still so very difficult.
We traveled all day on the 12th, arriving in Paducah, Kentucky just in time to collapse into bed to try to get enough rest to do it all over again the next day. We were thankful for an uneventful drive. The worst issue we encountered was how the hills slowed the truck to 35 miles an hour making it difficult to keep the 4 vehicles together. I still have moments when I am driving and remember spending those 3 days looking in the rearview mirror trying to get a glimpse of the bright yellow truck carrying all our earthly belongings. I prayed off and on for hours each day that Randy would be safe as he drove that huge truck all alone.
It was a challenge to keep together but more of a challenge to keep the 4 drivers alert with no relief drivers to provide a break. The second night we arrived very late in Georgia and again crashed immediately into bed. Alex didn’t even ask for sheets for the pullout bed, instead just huddled in his hooded sweatshirt and went to sleep on the couch.
On the final day of the trip we rose early, as we did the previous day, and even though we were so tired of driving, we had a bit more energy since we knew our destination was just a few more hours away. We finally hit the Florida line and stopped to enjoy the moment.We arrived at Andrew’s mid afternoon but couldn’t rest. We had beds to unload before we could sleep that night. We rejoiced, not believing we had made it without any big issues. No vehicle trouble, no weather issues, no major health issues beyond a couple of headaches, no doubt from staring at the road for so long.We were welcomed by family and had help unloading and getting settled. It was a long difficult week or so of our lives but we’d made it and were ready to begin our new adventure in Florida.
I look back at that trip and am so thankful that God blessed us in so many ways. But I can’t help, in this Christmas season, to contrast it with the trip Mary and Joseph had to take. While we traveled 3 days, it is thought that their trip took about 9 days. We were enclosed in temperature controlled vehicles, while they were exposed to the weather day after day walking and riding an animal. We had hotel reservations each night with clean soft beds awaiting us. Where did Mary sleep all those nights while they traveled? We had meals in restaurants, cooked to order. What did Mary prepare for the two of them to eat each day?
And when we arrived at our destination? We had a family to welcome us, a home awaiting us. All we had to do was unload the beds, set them up and put our PJs on. Mary and Joseph were greeted by strangers who offered little assistance beyond a rough stable shared with animals. No pillows, no soft sheets, no running water.
And while we were grateful to fall into bed for some much anticipated rest, Mary got no rest. She was giving birth to her son. While we were greeted with a lot of joyful hugging and rejoicing that we’d finally arrived, Jesus quietly came into the world while most people were asleep. Only the shepherds knew of his coming.
Today, I’m glad to be in Florida. Glad the trip is over. I’m just now getting to the point where I can see a big yellow truck and not groan from the memories of that long trip.
I’m glad we made the trip. But I am even more glad that Mary and Joseph made the trip so that their Son could be born and fulfill the prophecy that the Savior would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem.Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times’” (Micah 5:2).