It's that time of year again. Mariah Carey is on every local radio station, houses are lit up like an airport runway, stores are filled with stressed out shoppers, and most homes smell like spruce... either the authentic, real tree kind, or the plug into your wall socket kind. It's Christmas.
As Christians we focus on the birth of Jesus during this time. We rejoice in the fact that God sent His regal Son to earth in an unexpected manner. We marvel at every aspect of the story from Mary's obedience to the shepherds' courage. It was God's gift of Emmanuel that we honor. Emmanuel...God with us. But for many this holiday season, it feels like Jesus is anything but close.
Throughout the season, I have been reading through an advent devotional on the YouVersion Bible app. Doing so has been a daily reminder of the Christmas story, and it's relevance to my life today. Recently, in reading through one day's excerpt I was left with much reassurance about our Emmanuel. The past few months have been some of great stretching for me. I have been challenged to trust God at a deep level of dependance unlike any time in my life.
However, in reading Matthew 2 recently, I was encouraged by the promises found in this portion of the story of Jesus' birth.
Matthew 2:9-10, 12 (Amp) says this,
"After hearing the king, they went their way; and behold, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them (continually leading the way) until it came and stood over the place where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy."
"And having been warned (by God) in a dream not to go back to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way."
The first truth I notice in this passage is that God speaks to our perspective. The Magi were astrologers. They studied the stars. Thus, when God needed to share the most important instructions with them, He spoke to their perspective. He communicated with them in a way in which they would naturally understand.
I have been seeking God for wisdom and discernment during this growing season. I have felt at times that I had to solve some kind of mystery in order to hear from the Holy Spirit. What God has been showing me more and more is that He wants me to seek Him so that I can find Him. He doesn't want to appear as a puzzle that I must put together or a mystery I must solve. He wants to speak. And He wants to speak to me in a way in which I will understand. He created me, so therefore He knows how I think, how I process information, and how I interact with Him. When He's ready to instruct and lead me, He's going to do so in a way I will be able to receive. Much like the Magi, He will speak to me on my level.
The second truth I notice in this passage is that God speaks in steps. He didn't give the Magi the entire layout of their voyage. God is not google maps. He delights in our reliance on His voice through the Holy Spirit. There have been times in my current situation in which I want Him to communicate every detail of what my future looks like. There are many unknowns in various areas of my life. I'd love for God to show me exactly how each of these issues will turn out, but that would forfeit my need for faith. Without faith I cannot please God. The Bible tells me that. I am learning that having faith is a day by day, moment by moment, step by step relationship.
God led the Wise Men step by step. He led them to the Savior and He also protected them from Herod. Had they gotten ahead of God, they could have missed their meeting with Jesus. Had they decided to skip God's steps and try their own navigation, they would have returned home in a way in which they would have run straight into Herod. What I'm finding right now is that God knows what He's doing and He loves me enough to lead me, step by step. I'd never be able to understand or deal with the whole picture at one time. I need Him to lead me and show me at a pace He knows I can withstand. I may feel lost at times. I may feel like I've arrived at the incorrect destination, but the truth is that God doesn't make mistakes. He works all things together for my good. I must trust His Holy Spirit to lead and guide me every step of the way.
Christmas is just around the corner and before we know it we will be watching the ball drop as we usher in a new year. Life isn't always easy. Nothing about our circumstances is predictable or calculated. But I am learning just how good God is, and just how completely He loves me. Like the magi, He knows my dreams and my desires because He put them on my heart. I can trust His voice. I can count on His leading. Be encouraged this holiday season that God is speaking and that He will lead you right where He wants you to be. For He who promises is, and will always be, faithful.