“Journey to Bethlehem” is the name of the children’s Christmas Program this year. In our lessons and preparations, we have been discussing the journey of all who traveled that first Christmas. The lessons got me to thinking about the word “journey” as I was preparing. There are a couple ways to define it; one definition is: “an act or instance of traveling from one place to another.” In our lessons, the students have been helping me plan a trip for my Christmas break. We discussed what I should pack in my luggage and even where I should go. I showed a highway map to the students as we talked about the journey I was planning to take. Several looked at it funny and suggested I simply use the map app on my phone to guide me. The map gives clear direction, the symbols all make sense, and I could follow the thin lines on the paper to arrive at my destination in a timely manner. The paper map would be sufficient to plan my route if I were going to travel through the state of Wisconsin, but not a trip to Hawaii.
Another definition of journey is: “a long and often difficult process of personal change and development.” I am sure many of you would agree life is certainly a little different than using a simple highway map. On our trip of life, we find many detours due to our own insecurities and sin. Other times we keep driving, only to find out we took a wrong turn. We often times blame the invisible GPS system for our mistake, or quickly hit the off switch because of the constant bellow of “recalculating” we would rather ignore. There are even moments we are forced to stop because the pavement has ceased to exist. Perhaps there were warnings of the road closure we disregarded along the way, but we are forced to ask ourselves, “what now?”
This Advent season I have taken gentle note of the wise men and their journey. They didn’t have a road map or a modern app to tell them where to turn or set the cruise control. They simply noticed something different and turned their complete focus to the bright object in the sky, following it day and night. While they were not sure of the exact destination, they knew it led to something of great importance and did not want to miss out. The journey was long and it actually took a couple years to reach their destination, but they continued on completely focused on the star. While some may say they simply followed a star and asked for a few directions along the way, we know it was God’s provision that lead them to Jesus.
Our lives are similar. While my life has not included any deep teachings in astrophysics or the means to afford extravagant gifts, it has included the best direction giver. For many years I trusted my own GPS, but one day, as I was wandering, God caught my eye through the words of a friend. I knew from that moment I wanted to focus on Him and Him alone. The journey of my life changed that day and my focus shifted from my way to discovering my path by seeking my Savior through prayer and studying scripture.
While our journeys are all different, we are all invited to focus on our Father in Heaven. And like the star, we can look to Him to lead and guide each of us. God calls us to trust him and follow the lead of our Savior who joined us here on earth as a little baby. This same sweet, little bundle would grow up and pay our ransom as his body would hang from a cross and defeat death three days later. This was all done for me, and it was all done for you.
Is God calling you to Him? Grab hold of the greatest gift ever given – for He was given for you.
“‘Then you will call on me and come and pray with all your heart. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord” Jeremiah 29:12-13
May your Christmas be blessed as you put your focus on the gift of a little baby lying in the manger.