Follow the Star
by Adam Howard
Content Coordinator, CBN Europe
I’ve always been intrigued by the story of the ‘wise men’. A group of people who saw something beyond their own world and decided to embark on a journey to follow the star, without clear time scales or direction. Perhaps there is something of that adventuring spirit in us as followers of Christ?
There is much theological debate as to when the men arrived, if there were more than three and so on, but I’m not going to focus the attention here. Instead, let’s look at the story from a different perspective. What can we learn about our walk with Jesus from this well-known story?
“After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” – Matthew 2:9-10 (NIV)
What was it that made these men arise from their homes and travel vast distances? I’m not sure that they truly grasped the reality of what was taking place. They recognised something in the appearance of the star that informed their decision to move. Sometimes we recognise a significance in a moment or encounter, but don’t fully understand the consequence of it until later. As I read this story, I prayed that I would see it through different lenses. The words began to come alive from the page in front of me. I began to see some key traits within these men and how it relates to us as people who follow Jesus today.
Sometimes we recognise a significance in a moment or encounter, but don’t fully understand the consequence of it until later
Inconvenienced for the Cause
Firstly, they were willing to step out of their everyday routine and surrounding to follow something greater. We often live busy lives with full schedules, and it can be difficult to operate with any type of flexibility. When life throws a curve ball, how much does it upset your routine? Are we willing to step out of the ordinary pattern and walk with our eyes lifted to the things around us? Can God ‘inconvenience’ you as you go about your day?
Maybe the diary is so full of stuff that we miss the opportunities to just ‘be’. Their belief in the bigger cause was the motivation for them to change the pattern, pack up their camels and head into the unknown and uncharted territory. I want to be open to the prompting to change my pattern for His opportunity this Christmas.
Focused in Their Objective
They were clear about the journey ahead. I think that we can confidently assume that every night as the stars came out, they took out their telescopes and found the star again in the sky. They made sure that the path ahead was heading in the right direction. Even as they rode, I wonder whether they periodically glanced up to see the star above them. Maybe they even burst into a rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to pass the time. But throughout the trip they would have known where the star was and been completely committed to outcome.
I don’t know where you are right now, but I admit that my focus is not always in the right place. My eyes getting diverted by other things. It can be so easy at this time of year to be caught in the sparkle of the commercial, but I pray that this year will be different. That our eyes may be fixed upon the true heart of Christmas; Jesus.
Unrelenting in Their Pursuit
Scholars dispute the timescales of the wise men’s journey, but one thing we can agree on is that it wasn’t a short trip. Wherever they came from, it would have taken a long time to complete the journey. I am sure that there would have been times of tiredness along the way. Maybe even a diversion of some kind or a replacement bus service due to leaves on the line! Whatever happened, they didn’t stop walking. Whatever the weather, they kept on going. With their goal in focus, their will kicks in and they keep on trucking.
As the year comes to an end, you may be feeling a little more reflective; taking stock of what has been and looking toward what lies ahead. Let me encourage you in two things; one, don’t forget to celebrate the distance you have come this year; and two, commit to keep travelling. You may not be where you need to be yet, but you are not where you were; and that is something to celebrate.
Generous in Their Giving
When they arrived at the destination, the wise men didn’t hold back in their generosity. They gave abundantly. The journey itself would have been costly. Not just financially, but with time and resource too, but that didn’t stop them giving their best when faced with the baby in the manger. They trusted in the significance of the star, over what they physically saw in that stable and allowed that to inform their generosity. Sometimes our giving is based upon the perception of something rather than the significance of it.
This Christmas, I pray that we might be willing to step out of our day-to-day and into the uncharted, ‘inconvenience’ of an encounter with God. I pray that we might be focused on Jesus and committed to journeying through life with Him. And I pray that we might be generous people in this season; generous in love, hospitality, time, grace; as well as with our gifts. Christmas is the time we celebrate the greatest gift ever given to us. A time where we remember the moment where divinity became humanity, so we might be released from our slavery.
Here’s the thing; a star still shines today; Jesus, the Bright Morning Star is still blazing in the heavens. The question is, are you going to follow?
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