Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." (Matthew 2:1-2 ESV)
This part of the nativity story has struck me in the last few years. I cannot wrap my head around the idea of someone taking off on an epic journey to follow a star; a journey to find a baby that was promised in sacred writings. The wise men came from a great distance to worship a baby; a baby who was a king; a baby who would be the Light of the World.
In our American tradition, we call them wise men. In Spain, these men are called los reyes (the kings). If you look in the original Greek, you will find that they are called μάγοι (magoi) or magi which could be a sorcerer, wizard, magician or astrologer. Being magi, they were not following Jewish law which strictly prohibited these types activities. That leads me to think that they were not of the Jewish faith or cultural background and were probably not worshippers of the one true God. What really fascinates me about this story is that these men followed a star, a shining object in the sky, to the source of freedom for the entire human race - not just for the Jews, but for everyone. They could see what others in Jesus’ own culture could not. They saw something that stood out from the ordinary. It was different and gave them hope of things to come. A star, a light in the sky, directed them, even though they were “non-believers”, to the place where they felt they would find something special, a king worthy of worship.
Think about that… this star, this light, was shining and was attracting people of all races and religions to come and see.
That reminds me of another story. I have a friend that is a relatively new believer. Umar* was raised in the Muslim faith. One day he was in his room and he saw a vision of a light so bright it was indescribable. It didn’t hurt his eyes to look at it. In that moment, somehow he knew that the light was Jesus (he had heard about Jesus in the Quran) and he sought to find out more about Him. Umar* was attracted to something that was different, something he didn’t understand, but he knew that he needed to learn more and to understand who Jesus really is. He continues to walk in that Light today, learning and growing in his new faith.
Last week, I was reading an article about Mr. Rogers in the New York Times online. It recounts a story Fred Rogers told to a gathering a few years ago:
“I know of a little girl who was drawing with crayons in school.
The teacher asked her about her drawing, and the little girl said, ‘I am making a picture of God.’
The teacher said, ‘But no one knows what God looks like.’
The little girl smiled and answered, ‘They will now.’”
I found myself weeping after reading that story in the article. I was thinking about the star and the light again. I think that our lives are meant to be like that little girl’s drawing of God, helping people to catch a glimpse of what He looks like. Our lives are meant to be like that star, something different shining in the darkness. It makes me wonder if I am shining a light to point others to Jesus. Do they see something different in me? Do others see the way to Jesus when they see me? If they look at me, can they see God’s light shining through?
Jesus said: "You are the light of the world. …let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV).
I think that we are to be light - like stars - for others. We were made to shine, to glorify God and to point others to Jesus.
In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a soccer mom, a horsewoman, and the neighborhood hospitality queen. I did "Joanna Gaines farmhouse style" before Chip and JoJo were even a thing - we restored an 1884 Victorian farmhouse in small town Texas and did shiplap walls until I thought I'd go crazy. I taught at NASA, scuba dived with astronauts in training, and studied animals at Sea World for educational purposes. I've tried just about everything, because I have an insatiable need to know if I can do it! Never underestimate a Texas girl in cowboy boots!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers via teaching and training and care, and helping displaced people to navigate their new reality in Europe.
I'm passionate about fostering personal growth, growth in community, and growth in The Kingdom. Walking alongside others and helping them to use their unique design, their gifts and strengths and maximize their abilities to fulfill their God-given purpose - that's what makes my heart sing!