“The Road to Bethlehem” Advent devotion for December 21, 2021. Photo by Andy Beales on Unsplash
[The shepherds] went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. (Luke 2:16)
I find it interesting that the shepherds hurried down the road to Bethlehem to see the newborn Christ child. I wonder what “haste” looked like in first century Israel. A quick walk? A run? I don’t imagine shepherds having any other forms of transportation.
For us, fast is never fast enough. We covet faster internet, faster delivery of purchases, faster acting medications and immediate responses to our texts. We look for the fastest moving check-out line at the grocery store. We check a map app to find the fastest route to our destination. And why is our food taking so long?
One of the hardest things to get used to on mission trips to other countries was the seeming absence of time. I’m used to doing pretty much everything by the clock. From waking up to starting a class to keeping appointment, I’ve got to be on time. In other cultures, though, time just doesn’t matter that much. Your departure time is whenever you happen to leave. Lunch is whenever the food is ready. A meeting begins when everyone has shown up. The clinic closes when the last patient is seen. People are always more important than the clock.
Perhaps “with haste” doesn’t mean a sprint to the manger. Maybe it’s more like, “Let’s go right now.” What are we waiting for? Let’s make this trip a priority. Someone has come that we need to see.
At the very end of the bible, Jesus said, “I am coming soon.” Two thousand years later, we realize his idea of soon isn’t ours. Soon for us means a few minutes, not a few millenia. But he didn’t say, “I’ll be there in a few minutes.” We’re still learning what “soon” means in the context of eternity.
When we’re children, it seems to take forever for Christmas to arrive. And the overnight minutes before Christmas morning crawl by. For parents, though, it comes too quickly, and there’s barely enough time to get everything done. After three days visiting my dad in assisted living, he always said, “Do you have to go already?” I felt like I had been there three months.
Never put off the ones you love. Call them or visit them now. You don’t know how much longer they’ll be around. Do it with haste. And then savor every moment as if it were an hour. One day you’ll wish you had more time.
Come soon (with haste), Lord Jesus. But in the meantime, help me savor the wait. Amen.