Wouldn’t it be great if you always knew what God was doing and what He wanted you to do? Some people seem naturally good at noticing when there is a need and how God wants them to respond to that need. Other people seem oblivious to the needs around them and by default unaware of how God would want them to respond. What kind of person are you? Or do you fit somewhere in the middle, sometimes noticing the work of God and responding and sometimes completely missing it?
We witness a spectrum of people when we consider the events surrounding the birth of Christ from those like Zechariah who don’t get it initially to the Mary who responds faithfully right away to the shepherds in the field who aren’t sure, but still pack up and head to Bethlehem to check things out. The wisemen are one group who appear especially tuned into the work of God. We know little about them. They came from the east being led by a star and brought expensive gifts to worship Jesus as king of the Jews. Many scholars believe they are part of the “astrologers” or “wisemen” from the time of Daniel (Daniel 2:4), meaning they might have travelled over 900 miles from Babylon to see Jesus. Daniel was also part of the group of wisemen (Daniel 2:13). After the incredible miracles God does through Daniel, it would be no surprise to find some of this group of wise men turned to Daniel’s God and learned the various prophecies from the Old Testament. All of which could easily have led them to look for “his star” as they say when asked why they’ve come to Jerusalem (Luke 2:2).
Think about that for a moment. If you stood in a place with no smog or light pollution and looked up into the night sky, how many stars might you see? Could you even count them? With all those stars sparkling in the black sky above, and having no computers or telescopes, how would you even notice a single new one? Maybe it was brighter or bigger, but still, a single star in the midst of an untold number of other stars?
I think they saw it because they were looking for it.
When the wise men arrive in Jerusalem, they say this: “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose” (Matthew 2:2). In order to have noticed the star when it rose, the wise men had to have been looking for it.
Not unlike how easy it might have been to miss a single star rising in the sky amidst so many other stars shining brightly, we might easily miss the work God is doing amidst the full and hectic nature of our lives if we are not vigilant sin looking for it. How easy it can be to overlook God doing something when we are paying little attention and distracted by so many things around us. Yet, by intentionally slowing down and paying greater attention to what is around us, we will be much more likely to react like the wise men.
At first the practice may be difficult, and we may even continue to miss God’s work, but as we practice, it prepares us to notice more and more of what God is doing around us. It is a like when you are repainting your house and you begin to notice the paint color of every place you go or when you are buying a car and have it narrowed down to a few options and begin to notice those particular kinds of cars everywhere. As we give ourselves to intentionally being vigilant about looking for the work of God, it prepares us to see more of what God is doing around us and provides more opportunities for us to participate in God’s plans.
Over the next 2 days, look for how God is working. Pray that God would make you more aware of His leading. He may wish to lead you in big ways or in small, but practice listening to and following His lead. As you go through this process, does it become easier or harder? Share your experience with someone else.