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After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory – this was during Herod’s kingship – a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on a pilgrimage to worship him.” – Matthew 2: 1-2 (The Message)

I have the website bookmarked. I have the e-tickets pulled up on my phone, with back-up hard copies printed just in case (because #technology). I also have Google maps open with three possible routes outlined in the event traffic requires us to change course. All this careful planning on my part is an effort to ensure we get to our destination without any problems. I really like being prepared.

Direct routes, safe conditions, efficient travel. I cannot count how many times I have wished God would lead this way but instead the instructions sometimes look more like: “follow that star”. No tickets, no directions…just a star?

I wonder what those wise men of long ago were thinking, and what they were feeling, as they set out toward an unknown destination in search of a newborn king. They must have believed there was something worth seeing – someone born who would change everything. Filled with hope, they set their course by a light in the sky.

Meanwhile, I would be stopping for a map with specific directions and would have approximately one million questions about what lies ahead! Fortunately, the Lord gives me what I really need.

If I did have a map, my focus would be narrowed to that alone and I would be tempted to put all my trust in it. Instead, he provides a compass – his presence, constantly inviting me to look up and orient myself toward him. It is a way of walking learned daily: choosing to look up and set my course by the light.

I am deeply thankful that the Lord is  so patient with my questions and faithful in his commitment to lead me. Though I still tend to complain (a lot) about the indirect routes and the sketchy conditions, walking in relationship with God is both a rich journey and a beautiful destination.

As we enter this new year, may we orient ourselves toward Jesus and be filled with hope as we journey: there is something worth seeing – someone who changes everything. We're on a pilgrimage to worship him.