I laughed out loud at the following email someone sent to me last week:
“I had a power outage at my house this morning and my PC, laptop, TV, DVD, iPad and my new surround-sound music system were all shut down. Then I discovered that my iPhone battery was flat. To top it off, it was raining so I couldn’t go for a walk, bike or run. The garage door opener needs electricity so I couldn’t go anywhere in the car. I went into the kitchen to make coffee and then I remembered that it also needed power…so I sat and talked with my wife for a few hours… She seems like a nice person…”
That’s funny! But it’s also convicting. We can live under the same roof with people, even sleep in the same bed with them and actually not know them very well because we spend so little time in meaningful dialogue. We use electronic gadgets and travel privileges to escape from in-depth conversations.
Deep relationships take time and effort to develop. They are risky because they require making ourselves vulnerable and it’s possible we could get hurt. So we often choose to take the easy way out and avoid them. We’re more comfortable with surface conversations or text messages that we can terminate at any minute.
Shortly after Jesus was born, an angel ordered Joseph to quickly take his wife Mary and the baby Jesus and flee to Egypt because the authorities were seeking to kill the Christ-child. That was a tough assignment! Joseph and Mary were very young. This was a long, hazardous journey. They didn’t know anyone in Egypt. It’s doubtful they spoke the language or knew the customs. Why would God send them to Egypt and not back to Nazareth?
Maybe a serendipity of the flight to Egypt was that Joseph and Mary had more time alone and they really got to know each other. Their marriage had been arranged and the Jewish custom was for the couple to spend very little time together before the wedding. When they moved to Egypt they hadn’t been married for much more than a year. And the Bible says they had no intimate relations until after the Christ-child was born.
Perhaps the two years of semi-seclusion in Egypt was a wonderful bonding time for Joseph and Mary. They had to depend on each other and communicate with each other. God had arranged for the trip to be financed through the generous gifts of the wise men. Was the Egyptian excursion somewhat like a prolonged honeymoon trip for them? Was God rewarding them for their faithfulness and preparing them for the challenges that lay ahead?
I suspect when they traveled back to Israel, Joseph and Mary were very much in love. Each had discovered that the person they married was a really nice person. They may have looked back on their experience in Egypt as some of their best time together.
The Christmas season can be so hectic for us that, while we spend time in the same house, we don’t really get to know our family better. In fact the rush of the season actually drives some families apart. To combat that, I’d suggest that you stay at home for at least one day, turn off the television, avoid all email and put the phone and its twittering aside. Take the risk of really talking and patiently listening to some of your own family members! You may discover they are pretty nice people.