I received a recent email with many eloquent paragraphs from a traveller explaining how dangerous it was for him to travel in Nigeria. He went on about how it is a 97% travel risk, with really difficult conditions and perhaps the most dangerous roads in the world. As a frequent traveller to Nigeria, this reminded me of the day I drove by a bus stop where there was a terrorist bombing later that day at that exact same spot.
It also reminds me of the story of Jesus in Luke 2 that says: “And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He travelled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.” 1st century roads in Palestine were not very different from Nigerian roads today. Rough physical obstacles, robbers after dark, and hot and dusty conditions were the norm. I would not want my pregnant wife travelling on a Nigerian road a long distance, and I am sure Joseph felt the same way about the journey to Bethlehem.
But, after 20 years of travelling in and out of Nigeria, it now seems pretty normal. My wife and family think little of me travelling to and around Nigeria several times a year to work on the Africa Study Bible project. For me, Nigeria is a place with many dear friends, a place where the church is vibrant and growing, a place where I get to learn from faithful followers of Jesus who are persevering and even thriving in very difficult circumstances.
When I am travelling in Nigeria, I am always reminded that my God is Lord of all. He is fully capable of watching over me on roads, whether I am in Chicago or in Nigeria. The danger from my surroundings really has no impact on my safety as I am in His loving hands. I am his servant and it is up to Him what is allowed to harm me wherever I am. I wonder if Joseph felt the same way. I wonder if knowing that he was on a mission to guide the mother of the promised Messiah on the road made all the difference on a perilous journey.
When you are following God’s call, that is the safest and best place, even when he calls you to places that are hard or even dangerous.