In a crowded museum I saw her, darting eyes, hands shoved in her mouth, wandering in circles. Slowly I approached her and crouched down and asked “Sweetie, are you lost?” Without words, she nodded slowly, eyes widening and inched closer to me. It took several minutes to find an employee who then took her the front desk. Still, I followed, and smiled reassuringly at this precious child until her mother found and embraced her. Then I simply slipped away with my children, grateful to know that the two were united.
I am sure that I am not the only mother whose radar picks up on the particular fear in a child’s eyes who is separated from their parents. There is something so instinctual that makes us want to see a lost child and a parent reunited. Conversely, when our own children are lost, we silently pray that some kind stranger will bring them quickly and safely back to us.
I imagine that Jesus might have viewed me with these same eyes when I was in my 20’s. One year I was lost in a lifestyle of partying and pretending. After having a few drinks too many, I remember wandering home, not really knowing where I was. I was afraid and alone. Something deep inside awakened to the reality that I was also lost from my true life with God. I made a bold decision to move out of the town where I was living back into a situation where I would be a roommate with a friend who loved and followed God.
I know that while I was back on the path of seeking God, Jesus was with me. He prompted me to call people for prayer, gave me greater wisdom about friendships, and eventually led me back to the place where I lived an authentic life with Him. However far we might wander along in life without knowing our authentic place, Jesus is always with those who seek Him.
It is difficult to live in a world with our increasing awareness of violence; world wars, oppression of women and children, the threat of terrorism. At times we feel hopeless, at other times angry, or at other times deeply saddened by the way human beings treat one another. The truth is, God is never absent in these situations and invites us to partner with Him in bringing justice and mercy to our world.
So how do we partner with God?
One way is to consider passages such as this one:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Michah 6:8
Think about words that jump out to you as you read… justly… mercy…humbly. These are not just religious concepts, these words are an invitation. How can you approach people and situations in your life with the same mindset that Jesus would have if He were in your place? When we consider this, we not only become more aware of God’s pattern of offering undeserved forgiveness, we will gain the strength we need to live in a way that is more compassionate and merciful.
In an effort to prepare Him room this Christmas, I had the gift of several hours of silence at an Advent Quiet Day. The theme of this day was “Lessons on Seeking from the Wise Men”.
For me, this lesson came at s time when I am seeking discernment for my next vocational season. Am I to continue focusing all of my time and talent in my home with four children? Am I to continue developing a non-profit that I am passionately committed to? Am I to continue offering spiritual direction in more formal settings? Develop my spiritual writing? Work with pastors to bring the streams of Christian faith more fluidly into various denominations?
So a day watching the wise men travel for almost two years with only stars as their compass, this was an illuminating day for me. I saw these wise men as they really were… SEEKERS. I asked myself: who am I traveling with who is spiritually wise? Who are those in my life who are traveling with me toward the very present reality of Jesus… The reality of generous worship, sacrificial and costly giving, being in the presence of a holy humble King?
I lament the loss of some of these daily traveling companions. First of all, my dearest and best companion Angela R. Her life with us has ended here and she now takes up residence in the very present reality of Jesus Christ… In eternity. While I have parts of her life deeply embedded in the inner workings of my soul, what I miss the most is the daily ability to have here companionship. Her traveling companionship. Some friendships are for particular places and seasons of life, but this friendship was as close to what I imagine these wisemen shared. All from different places but with a similar passionate pursuit of the present reality of Jesus. Angela, I praise God that you have entered into your rest and peace and the fullness of joy. I sense you beckoning me onward towards this reality even though we don’t share the same lonely road any longer. It is a sweet consolation, even as I miss you so deeply today, that I have had your companionship for over 12 years… Companionship that demonstrated to me a life led by wisdom. So as I write this list of what I saw in the wise magi from the east, I see your face instead of theirs. You, my dear friend, are the wise one that I will miss until I too come face to face with our holy King Jesus.
For my wise friend Angela who has found Jesus…. A tribute to the journey of the three wise kings
Wise people travel together
Wise people leave the comfortable and go
Wise people stay focussed on what God reveals to them
Wise people listen
Wise people see
Wise people fall on their knees
Wise people worship
Wise people give their best to the most treasured part if their life
Wise people seek with with their whole being
Wise people search
Wise people journey
Wise people wonder
Wise wise people are not afraid to travel in the dark
Wise people live in the questions
Wise people pay attention to their dreams
Wise people have stored up treasures to give
Wise people speak Gods truth- always
Wise people pay attention to Gods voice and guidance
Wise people think, act, and behave differently than foolish people
Wise people keep their attention upwards, towards heaven
Wise people pay attention to messages in Gods creation
Wise people are prepared for the long road ahead
Wise people are attractional… People want to know where they are going and often follow
Wise people are transporters of untold treasures and riches
Wise people are generous with their time and treasures with those they love
“The soul needs meaning the way the body needs food. Lack of meaning leads to an addictive consumer society in which people try to stuff the hole in their soul with things”. Bruce Tallman
At a time when frenzied shopping and eating become a national hobby, we read words like these and we might stop to ask ourselves: are we trying to fill peoples wish lists or stuff the hole in their soul with things? Or is the act of purchasing things for others our way of stuffing the holes in our broken relationships? This Christmas I was compelled from the very beginning of the Christmas season to clean house, purge unnecessary clothing and books, and even box some things up to put them away in my garage for future use. The thought came to me simply: prepare Him room.
It never says this in the Christmas stories that I read, but isnt interesting to think that even when Jesus weighed less than 10 pounds, our world had no room for Him? I picture Mary and Joseph, pregnant with the possibility that they were holding the world’s redeemer within them. I picture the paradox of a town, pregnant with fear and blind obedience, following through on the whimsical orders of a jealous and insecure king. These two worlds will never be in sync, for who can really live with two distinct mindsets? Who can work for two bosses? Who can worship an idol made of wood and stone and also give honor to the God whose name means I AM… THAT I AM!
What would it look like for you to prepare space and time in your Christmas schedule for Jesus? Perhaps you can have an honest conversation with yourself about your Christmas motives. Do you find deep meaning in celebrating Jesus entrance into our world, or do you settle for momentary highs of shopping and excessive gift giving. I admit, as a mother of four children, I do not always have the discernment to know what is given out of love and what is given to prove my love to my children.
Maybe you don’t have enough to do this Christmas and the idea of being lonely again for the holidays brings a certain fear. Perhaps this is a place to allow Jesus, not stuff and not people, to fill up the hole in your sole with His presence. One Christmas I had moved to a new town and had just delivered my third baby and first son. I was not anywhere near settled into where we had moved. No friends to bring me a meal or visit me at home. No familiar faces at church or in the neighborhood. On top of that, the Midwestern winter was brutal compared to the sunny southern California winters of my previous life. I had so much time on my hands that I took up crocheting. Stitch after stitch I would sit in contemplation of my old life and it’s fullness, until one day I realized… I was RELAXED. Snow and new baby kept us home bound where we read and crafted and crocheted to our hearts content. No entertaining to do, no obligations to meet. I saw this as A place where God forced me to prepare room in my life for space and rest and breathing and slowing down the pace of my overstuffed life.