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eastern-star

“Arise shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.”
~ Isaiah 60:1-2

“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, Wisemen from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to worship him.'”
~ Matthew 2:1-2

Well, another week into the New Year has arrived and I’m pressing forward with certain things I’ve set out to possibly do in 2017.  More than just the 2nd week into the New Year, on many church calendars this week is also recognized as the 1st week of Epiphany season.  What is that you ask?  Epiphany Day is marked as the day the Wisemen from the East saw a great light and came looking for the child born king of the Jews.  Every year January 6 is recognized as this day, after the 12 days of Christmas (yes, like the children’s Christmas song).  The Scripture passages shared above are commonly used as well to mark Epiphany.

The word Epiphany has come to represent a sudden meaningful occurrence.   It’s that sudden moment of understanding, aha moment, or light bulb that goes off in our heads.  It marks the coming of our Savior, the Light of the world.  The Wisemen saw a great light rise in the East and it pointed them to the true king of the Jews being born one night.  Somehow they recognized this with great clarity, although they didn’t know exactly where this child king was born.  Logically they go to Jerusalem, the home of the Jews.  Of course they would know and be aware of this sighting being that it signifies their king.  Well…

Have you ever felt duped, out of the loop, or left in the dark in regards to something?  Suddenly I hear a nagging voice in my head saying, “I know something you don’t know, I know something you don’t know.”  Anyone know where that’s from?  Anyway, I’m also reminded of my football team, the Green Bay Packers here also.  You may recall, earlier this current season they looked about finished.  They had lost 4 in a row and were almost looking stupid out there.  And star quarterback Aaron Rodgers looked more like Don Majikowski than the great successor to Brett Favre we’ve known him to be.  The Packers seemed destined for an early exit on the season and a minimal, disappointing record to say the least.  People were calling for coach McCarthy’s head as well.

But don’t tell any of this to Aaron Rodgers!  Following their 4th consecutive substantial loss Rodgers confidently sounded off during his post-game press conference, “I think we can run the table!”  Where does he come off?  Has he witnessed the same games and team I have for these past 4 weeks?  I sure wasn’t feeling it!

Now, 7 weeks later and it seems he’s a prophet or something as they haven’t lost and entered the playoffs atop their division after everyone about counted them out.  It was only a couple years ago too when Aaron Rodgers after another rocky start by the Packers, confidently sounded off again saying, “Relax!” before they went on another run and quieted their naysayers.  What does Aaron Rodgers know that we don’t know?  Right now it seems like an awful lot, and many are alarmed seeing them as the hottest team left standing.

This sounds quite a bit like what King Herod, along with all of Jerusalem with him, felt as these Wisemen from the East came to Jerusalem looking for the child born king of Jews.  If you read further in the story it says that a great fear rose up within Herod, along with all of Jerusalem with him.  Who are these wise guys?  Do they know something we don’t know?  How could they?  Where do they get off coming to our town and asking about such things?

When was the lost time you’ve felt lost and in the dark?  Either physically or metaphorically?  When these Wismen arrived in Jerusalem it’s like they come out of left field (really, the East).  King Herod surely had no recollection of any king being born, and nonetheless to his throne.  The Jews too seemed in the dark on the matter.  They were only aware of the prophecy.  These wise guys show up and seem to know something they don’t know about their long awaited Messiah/Savior and now the text says they’re frightened!  Did we miss something?  How do these people from the East know about OUR Savior and seem to have gotten a notification that we didn’t?

Have you ever felt like you’ve been left in the dark in terms of your relationship with God before?  Has your way ever gone dark as you’ve followed him? I’ve felt that way this past year.  Never before have I questioned the voice of God and the prompting of his Spirit more than this past year.  However, I still cannot shake the fact that God is still on his throne and working on my behalf.

Just about a month ago now I was in the running for just the type of position I’ve thought I’ve been waiting for that also fit what I’ve basically been working towards as well.  My chances seemed promising, but I really didn’t know.  As the week approached when I expected to hear back from the employer, something peculiar happened that Sunday morning in church to begin the week.

My family and I attend a church where we pass out prayer cards between everyone in the pews.  We then get into small groups with those around us and pray for what’s on our cards.  Lo and behold, when I turned around and started praying with the family behind me one of their children began reading his card and it was for me and the position I had been waiting to hear about.  This thrilled me!  Could it be a sign of what’s to come?  I guarded myself from totally jumping to conclusions, but it definitely got my attention. The week moved forward and sure enough I heard from the employer.  I didn’t get the position…

What?  Again?  How can this be?  Did I miss something?  It seems obvious to me that there’s no way the above could have happened other than by the hand of God.  I again was disappointed.  I did however hold on to hope, as whatever the outcome, that occurrence on Sunday morning still reminded me that God is with me.

Then the very next Sunday another interesting thing happened…  I was scheduled to sing with the praise team and since we finished practice early I sat down near the front for some quiet time with God.  I prayed and shared me heart with him.  Then I opened my eyes and noticed the baskets with prayer cards for that morning stacked in the pew in front of me.  There, in the top basket, atop all the other prayer cards, was another card with my name on it requesting prayer in light of the position I didn’t get.

My heart rushed again.  How can this be?  Does God know something I don’t know?  The answer seems quite obvious to me.  I guess, at least to a certain degree, I am still in the dark as I still don’t know where all of this is leading. Such occurrences though keep a light burning within my heart, able to keep believing that God is with me, Immanuel, like Christmas confirms.

So, what do we do when our going gets dark?  The Wisemen seem to have it right.  They kept watch for God’s promised coming, came seeking the truth about the Christ child, continued to follow the Light (see John 8:12), and worshipped Christ (revered, honored, glorified).  Whenever your going gets dark, this is how you keep going.

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One Who is leading.” ~ Oswald Chambers

“The fear (reverence) of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.  To him belongs eternal praise.” ~ Psalm 111:10

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