Happy New Year! Many of us are making New Year’s resolutions or trying to figure out how to make improvements in one’s life.
In the United Methodist tradition, we call this going on to perfection, striving to become more and more Christ-like through our thoughts, words, and actions. As we do so, may we consider the story of the Wise Men found in Matthew 2:1-12. In this passage, the Wise Men set out on a journey to visit the Baby Jesus, as they have seen the star in the East that will lead them to the Messiah. Before they leave, Herod secretly and sneakily calls them together, instructing them to bring him word of the Baby’s whereabouts when they returned. He pretended to be interested in the Baby in order to pay homage to him. However, Herod had a hidden agenda to get rid of the Baby. Fortunately, the Wise Men were warned in a dream not to listen to Herod and went home another way. Thank God they listened!
One way of looking at this story is to see Herod as representing the evil forces of this world such as addictions and ways that bring further brokenness. When we journey toward them, we do so innocently sometimes thinking we can be stronger this time and overcome them on our own. They appear harmless, but end up bringing us harm. God calls us to abandon those things that keep us from having a more fulfilling relationship with God. God calls us to travel a different road and promises to be with us no matter how rocky and impossible it may seem from time to time.
In my own case, David and I have reflected that our family watches a little too much television. At the end of an eventful day, it is tempting just to veg-out in front of the television, watch show after show and before long it’s time to go to bed. In 2019, our new road will include playing more games, being creative, and reading an extra Bible story. Our hope in taking this new road is that our relationships with one another will be strengthened and grow deeper in faith by reading and re-reading stories of God’s people.
In 2019, how is God challenging you to travel by a different road? Is God challenging you to forgive family members who have hurt you recently or in the past? Is God challenging you to take better care of your body? Is God challenging you to spend more time in prayer and reading the Bible? Whatever the call may be, know that God travels that road with us and will
not forsake us. May we all be in prayer for one another as we travel these new roads.