By Lauren M.
When I was in college, I managed to convinced some classmates to choose a mountain climbing trip as our one-day alternative class during one semester. I didn’t even think about whether I could climb a mountain or not at that time. Even though I wasn’t exactly athletic, we were all in fairly good health. I thought it would be all about, you know, communing with nature and stuff like that.
The mountain we climbed was beautiful – but I couldn’t exactly absorb the beauty of my surroundings when my legs and thighs felt like they were burning. “Malapit na tayo,” (“We’re getting near,”) our guide kept on saying. Those words encouraged me to grit my teeth and to take just one more step. And another. And then another. Even if I was a newbie at mountain climbing, I didn’t think, of course, that we were already near the top of the mountain. But I did think that the guide was trying to say that we would soon reach a milestone, like a resting place or an important landmark.
After what felt like an hour, but what was probably only around 15 minutes, the guide finally said, “Nandito na tayo…” (We’re already here…”). I gasped with relief since my lungs felt like they were gonna burst soon. The guide continued, “Nandito na tayo sa starting point” (“We’re already here at the starting point”).
I stared at the guide in disbelief. Starting point? Was this a joke? I thought. Apparently not, since that tireless person continued to climb the mountain, with the rest of the group, including my huffing and puffing self, trailing behind.
Joseph, the husband of Mary, must have had an even harder time when he went to Bethlehem, much more than a bored college student who wanted to try something new. After all, he traveled for miles while taking care of a pregnant woman (Luke 2:4-5), he helped his wife find shelter so that she could give birth to her first child (Luke 2:6-7) and he had to look after some important paperwork in the process (Luke 2:5).
But at last, he was able to do all he needed to do at the time. Perhaps some time after Jesus’ birth, Joseph already looked forward to going back to Nazareth and settling in a small but comfortable home with his family. Finally, he probably thought, he could get some well-deserved rest. But a dream in the middle of the night would change all this:
“An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.’” (Matthew 2:13)
Joseph could have disobeyed. He could have grumbled. But he didn’t – he just packed up their meager belongings and fled with his family to Egypt. So instead of going home, he and his family had to run away to a foreign land, where everything – the surroundings, the language, the people – was unfamiliar.
Just when he thought the challenges were over, a new one came his way. But his family’s unexpected exile was for their own good, even though Joseph didn’t understand it completely at the time. For their immediate good, because they were able to avoid King Herod’s soldiers who were sent to kill Jesus. And for their long-term good as well, because their stay in Egypt would allow a prophecy to be fulfilled: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Hosea 11:1)
Joseph’s faith and obedience encouraged me recently to trust in God when I felt like life was throwing me another challenge, just after I’ve been through a series of challenges, and I thought about quitting already.
However, I admit that the story of Joseph was not the reason why I kept climbing the mountain during that college expedition. I just didn’t want to be left by myself in the middle of the wilderness! Thankfully, my legs started to lose the burning feeling after some time had passed and I was able to make it to the top of that Level 1 mountain with the rest of the group. Although I felt like something the cat dragged in by the time the trip was over, I was glad I didn’t give up because it actually felt exhilarating to reach a mountain’s peak. But I’m not ashamed to say that I stuck to more tame alternative classes, such as body painting and other indoor activities, during the following semesters.