I know of a refugee family from the mid-East who had to flee their homeland under threat of violent death. A tyrannical ruler had sent armed men to find and murder them. In fact, it was a heartless and bloody genocide. The thugs killed dozens, maybe hundreds in the town… the family barely escaped.
They fled in the night, with just the clothes and valuables they could carry. By daybreak, they had already traveled deep into a strange countryside, on their way to a foreign country they knew almost nothing about. They traveled 250 miles on foot, long days across wilderness.
Their food and water was spent when they finally sighted a distant town on a large river. There were many ships and merchants and strange sights. They were footsore and ragged, with no friends or family for hundreds of miles. No one spoke their language.
The small child they carried had been just as good as could be, but he, too, was tired and thirsty. He had no place to call home. The father was a skilled craftsman, and unsure of how long he would have to stay in this foreign land, began to seek work. He could hardly speak enough of the language to find work and he had few tools. Several men recognized his good workmanship and reached out to him, helped him get on his feet.
The young mother was uprooted from her family. She had no kitchen, no pots or pans, no wardrobe of clothing, no napkins for the table. No table. But several women took her in hand and showed her how to shop in the markets, how to avoid thievery and cheating that was everywhere. Others helped them find shelter, clothing, clean water.
Many times they found that they had to open the small chest for one of the gold pieces that a wealthy stranger, a foreigner himself, had given them just before they had fled their home country. But what they had left in the box had to last. They were waiting to go home.
Finally, the bloodthirsty tyrant who had killed so many of their neighbors back home was dead. They now faced a hard return journey. The trip was made easier by a friendly departure, farewells to good friends. Back in their country, they found it unsafe to settle in their home town. The tyrant’s son now ruled and would kill them without a second thought if he found out who they were. So they became displaced yet again, this time into the town of Nazareth, in the region of Galilee.
The next time we hear of the young family, the child is 12 years old. He is seated in the great temple built by the very tyrant who tried to kill him. Around him are the greatest men of all Israel, philosophers, and doctors of the law. And every one of them is astounded, overwhelmed, with the boy’s deep questions. His challenges to their assumptions about eternal values. His insights into the very nature of the great God Jehova whom thy worshiped.
And the child increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man. And all of history began to change.
This is excerpted from a Christmas newsletter from our friend Joel.