Luke 2:1, 4-5: “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 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.”

Sometimes, when life happens, it happens fast! Put yourself in Joseph and Mary’s shoes for a minute:

After returning from her aunt and uncle’s house and three months into her pregnancy, Mary had to face her family and husband-to-be Joseph. Thankfully, Joseph believed the angel of the Lord that Mary’s child was the Son of God, and a short time later they got officially married.

Then, out of the blue, Augustus’ decree was requesting all citizens of Israel to register in their ancestral towns.  This would be Mary’s second trip to Judea during her pregnancy, only now she was in her third trimester.  They had to travel 90 miles to the city of Joseph’s ancestors: south along the flat lands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem. It must have been a fairly grueling trip, especially in Mary’s condition.

Why this untimely decree? Without it, Mary could have delivered the baby in the comfort of her own home. Embracing life sometimes feels like embracing a cactus, doesn’t it? Although in the end, it all comes together and falls into place. The child had to be born in King David’s hometown, thereby drawing the family connection to King David and fulfilling ancient prophecy.

If we feel that God’s timing often seems to be out of sync with human timing, then here is a good analogy for you: life’s unforeseen seasons and surprising events are similar to following a syncopated beat in the realm of music. Syncopation is a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm. Dancing to God’s heartbeat, we must be prepared for surprises. God is a wonderful dance teacher. We will get the hang of it as we get to know Him better.

We are poor life’s dancers if we impatiently expect a problem to be solved yesterday and feel that God’s way of intervening is slow or seems to make matters worse. Trusting Him, we will be better equipped to deal with life’s curve balls. Mary and Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem is a great example. Life is a journey, and with God we’ll have the trip of a lifetime.