Life can have you wondering, can’t it? Full of twists, turns and surprises….maybe wandering would be a better word. Sometimes you think you’re on the right road when suddenly you feel very lost. Nothing looks familiar. Nothing makes sense. Ever been there? Me too.
There’s a story in Matthew 2 about a group of wise guys who go in search of a new born king. They show up in Jerusalem and inquire as to his whereabouts. The current king, Herod, was disturbed by this inquiry. (Disturbed is being kind.)
Herod gathers his smart people and asks just where this Christ child was to be born. They tell him Bethlehem. He secretly meets with the wise guys and tells them to go find this child and report back to him so he, too, can worship this new king. They do as they were told except that they went a different route after being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod.
Herod hears about this and realizes he was outsmarted by the wise guys and proceeds to have every boy two and under killed. He was a madman, a lunatic and beyond disturbed.
Isn’t this more of a Christmas story? Yes and no. The wise men don’t search for and visit Jesus until several months after his birth. So here we are, several months post-Christmas and I have some thoughts about the wonderings and wanderings of these men.
I find it interesting that these wise men, some thought to be astronomers, didn’t go straight to Bethlehem but instead went to Jerusalem. They saw the star in the east, but went to the wrong place initially.
Or did they?
Jerusalem was the logical place for them to go to in their search for a king that had just been born. It was the capital city, a hub of activity and likely where royalty would give birth. It sure seems illogical that this babe was nowhere to be found in the city. Why had these wise men been led here?
Sometimes you and I wander down what appears to be the logical place to go, following logical directions. Sometimes we get to where we think we’re supposed to be to find out it’s really not. There’s another leg of the journey. Did we hear wrong? Take a wrong turn? Read the map upside down?
On this “wrong road” we meet people like Herod…very disturbed. We experience hurt and loss and grief. We are bewildered, befuddled and a bit bewitched. How did we end up here? I just want to follow that star straight to Jesus.
But nothing is ever without purpose or usefulness with God. What may seem like a wrong turn or illogical stop can (and will) be used by God.
Had these wise guys not gone to Jerusalem first and met the lunatic Herod, they might have thought the warning in a dream to not go back to Herod was illogical (Matthew 2:12). If they had gone back it may have meant giving full disclosure to the whereabouts of this baby king that had Herod so riled up. Then who knows what.
There was something they needed to learn on this side road to finding this new King. Something they needed to know because of what was coming. Something they needed to understand so they would be prepared for what was illogical to make sense.
A question I’ve learned to ask the past couple years when I find myself wandering on some side road, off the beaten path and having no idea why I’m even there or how long it will take to find my way back to the main road is this:
What is it you’re trying to teach me Lord? What is it I’m supposed to be learning in this place? In this season? At this time?
God had the wise guys backs by sending them to what seemed like the wrong place. He’s got our backs too. We are never as lost as we may feel. We never go down a road that God does not know exactly where we are. We can trust him to take us through the hard things to get us to the king of Kings.
And so I continue on the journey trusting the One who has been right beside me through all the twists, turns and seemingly wrong directions. I will trust that every person I meet (even the Herod’s), every situation I encounter, every road I travel, can be used to teach me something. When I don’t understand something in the here and now, I will tuck it away, knowing that somewhere down the road it will make the illogical become logical. It will make odd dreams make sense. It will give me direction later on.
Fiercely for YOU!