We’ve all got something or someone we look to for guidance and direction. Growing up it may have been a long talk with your favorite aunt or uncle, sugary coffee break with a close friend, or an impromptu visit with a trusted mentor. Maybe the zodiac reading from the back of a US Weekly influenced your choices at one point. Other times, you may have just followed your primal “gut instincts.” Whatever it is, we look to those feelings and hunches to lure and lead us through our sometimes seemingly senseless lives.
At the beginning of this New Year, reflection fills my heart as I look to the blank vast canvas ahead. It’s almost as if something deep within our human DNA creates a pensive self-serving haze over the last days of each calendar year. Like smog over a polluted city, we seek to engage with family members and enjoy time off but we are privately assessing ourselves. Inward thinking, expectations, and goal-setting ensues as we await the countdown to the New Year. Just the same as last year, this year I am filled with questions, ideas, hopes, dreams, and concerns as I consider the potential of a fresh 365 days. drawing a blank I sat down to write this piece — a piece on guidance in the New Year (or at least that’s the prompt I gave myself) — I began racking my brain of all the ways God has shown His plan for me over the years. Fearful I just may miss it this year, I began to ask serious questions. What do I need to be looking for? How can I hear from Him more clearly? What should my husband and I pray for? What should I pray for? I sort of draw a blank — as if measly little me could ever do anything to stifle or summon God’s presence in my life. Hilarious thought, right? I suddenly felt like a delicate snow flake — unique in my make-up — but wildly floating down to earth, tossed from gust to gust, clumsily adhering to leaves, trees, eyelashes, and scarves as I fervently fall to the cold ground. Tossing and swaying with the turn of each day, month, and year.
Is this God in my life? Am I feeling Him pull and push me in these directions? Or, am I just feeling the consequences of a lazy prayer life, lacking of spiritual discipline, and a general apathy towards my soul’s eternity?
Yearning for comfort — I think to one of the clearest of all of God’s messages.
A simple star.
“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. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:9-11).
The three wise men followed a star in the sky as they sought out King Jesus. Really. A star. A massive, luminous floating sphere of plasma held together by its own gravity. As easily as removing ornaments from the limbs of a Christmas tree, God stuck this same twinkling light in the exact location, night after night, as He led them to the anticipated King.
How much more majestic could God really be?
He literally changed the night sky to provide guidance. I immediately had a brief image of me as a very tiny stick figure cartoon with crazy curly hair next to this big robed, long-haired, tan God figure wearing a doo-rag. Kidding — sort of. There was some sort of hair embellishment, but I don’t really know what it was. Maybe a turban. I don’t know but this is my day dream, okay?!?
Anyway, God and I chatted. It was sort of like this: I’d ask, “What’s up today, God?” and He would reply, “Oh, nothing, just doing some redecorating — OF THE FLIPPIN’ UNIVERSE.” And then I’d say, “Oh really, why?” and He’d say, “To lead them to Jesus.”
Reorganizing the world. That’s when it hit me — the same God that reorganized the universe to lead the wise men to Jesus, is the God who is still reorganizing things, trying to show me JESUS! He’s still sticking stars in our sky, turning water into wine, throwing out rainbows like it “ain’t no thang,” and parting seas. The difference? We’ve quit looking. I’ve quit noticing, acknowledging and believing.
I quietly read His promises but do not anticipate the fulfillment. I process His story but do not expect Him to enter my life. I proclaim the Gospel but do not let it change and move me.
So this year, as I twiddle around the house, attempting to clean up Christmas decor, throw away twine and packaging, scribble down a wildly ambitious workout regime, and embarrassingly polish off those last few casserole dishes of holiday yummies — I’m going to ditch the resolution list, the goal-setting, the self-centered, self-help movement I feel nagging at me from within. Instead, I’m going to start looking to the sky for those stars. I’m going to speak out about the story of Jesus. I am going to live out the Gospel in my community and let it change me. I will let the glory and power of Christ move me to action.
This year is different.
And this year, just as the Word says, when I see the star, I, too, will be overjoyed.