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Devotional Day 8 – Journey of the Magi – “Where our story begins…”

This is the last day this momma has written for the Journey of the Magi–and where the rest of our year…the next chapter of our story–BEGINS.

This devotional day is one of those “good but hard” realities. I would read it–and if you have little ones…put it in your own words as appropriate for your children’s ages:

While I originally thought the Journey of the Magi would last around 2 weeks right up to our Christmas in Ethiopia celebration (January 7th is when they observe Christmas!)…BUT we have little to go on in Matthew’s documentation–but what we do have is rich enough to follow Christmas with their story every year. I wish we could say we ended our Magi story on a good note. But truly–it is awful. Can you imagine? They are warned to go a different route to bypass King Herod–this is for their protection…some times hard things are for our protection. THEN–Herod finds out he has been outwitted by the wisemen–which really ticks King Herod off. I mean, seriously makes him angry. BUT this is really fitting for what is ahead…hard–but fitting.

Matthew 2:13-18 “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

So…our Magi are told in a dream by God to go another route. God’s plan. A different route…a harder route…a longer route—the first one only took a year…are you serious God? Okay, okay. God’s plan. Herod realized the Magi aren’t coming back to tell him where Jesus is…who disobeys the king…the government…he was filled with rage–this Jesus that the country is talking about and kings come to see–Herod would do anything to stop the world from following this said-to-be King. Herod’s plan? To kill EVERY boy baby under 2 years old and younger in Bethlehem AND its vicinity. To have moms weeping…babies and precious ones dying…to have over 600 families, as historians have estimated, lose their sons and many, many others effected by the loss of family members…and although they knew Herod was the hatred behind the slaying…every time they heard the name Jesus they would know it was because of Herod wanting to kill Jesus that their babies where killed. OUCH. Not a way I want to come into the world…Surely this couldn’t be God’s great idea of how He would get everyone to fall in love with Jesus and follow Him…RIGHT?

I think about the old hymn, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Sweetest Name I know.” I can’t imagine the pain in these families…all a result of the Magi upsetting King Herod. I have tried to put myself in the shoes of those moms who lost their little ones after the Magi left. We never tell this part of the story at Christmas time do we? YET–this is part of how Jesus came into the world. Truly, it was as if He never even stood a chance. Then you have the entire community wrecked and mourning…do you think those moms ever wondered, “Why my baby boy?” And later…every time she saw Jesus in the streets or heard about him–she would remember the last time she heard his name in the streets and lost her own son. “Yes, he’d be about his age,” she think to herself…”why my baby boy?” I mean, have you ever wondered why the world was so quick to cry “crucify”…or why it wasn’t so popular to follow this Jesus? Of course, He was radical. Of course, He said He was God–and that made some people scratch their heads. But there was also a rather large group who had been directly effected by his name since his birth…and this sets us up for the journey of the cross in the months ahead.

For Jesus–I have to imagine that life even from the beginning just didn’t seem fair. And for these families effected by Herod’s hatred of Jesus–life wasn’t fair either. I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I feel like I have very few. And I also realize my non-believing friends who read my blog scratch their heads and wonder about me half the time any way. I mean…who is this God who lets hard things happen? I mean…if He is God–why doesn’t He just come down and stop it? I wish I could answer all the questions–and while I know little…I do know He desires us to trust Him…He desires to allow Him to heal our wounds…and I don’t understand it…but there is something that happens when we relinquish ourselves completely to Him…and trust in His name.

I also believe that some of these moms eventually trusted and believed in Jesus. And I also believe that at some point–they could have even sung a hymn about His sweet name as He healed their deepest wounds…

Sweetest Name I Know
There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low
Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still
In all of life’s ebb and flow

Though sometimes he leads through waters deep
Trials fall across the way
Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep
See his footprints all the way

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Sweetest name I know
Fills my every longing
Keeps me singing as I go

Feasting on the riches of his grace
Resting ‘neath the sheltering wing
Always looking on his smiling face
That is why I shout and sing

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Sweetest name I know
Fills my every longing
Keeps me singing as I go

All my life was wrecked by sin and strife
Discord filled my heart with pain
Jesus swept across these broken strings
And stirred these chords again

Truly, I think we often miss a lot of the hardship Jesus, Himself, came into the world with. I think it’s important to realize it, meditate on it and understand it. I’ve heard pastors and teachers of the gospel say “Jesus came into the world and experienced pain so we could identify with him…” or “so He could identify with us”. I’m not so sure any of us could ever REALLY identify with Jesus, his pain and how hard things really were from the beginning for him. Sure He can identify with you–because He’s been there…but to identify with Him? Wow…we really need to start at the beginning…and think about how hard even the beginning really was. But there was nothing God, Himself, would not do for a personal relationship with YOU. THAT is WHY He came my friends. Because He loves YOU that much. And if you journey in this world and miss THAT–then you have missed everything. Period. And He’s just too good to miss.

So now…our real journey begins. And each day–we’ll store up treasures in our treasure box…writing them down as we go and remember ways we have seen Him…the one worth traveling across the dessert and back for…and He is worth going one step further with…

So much to look forward to in 2012! As I’ve been reposting/rewriting these devotions from last year–I’ve kept myself from sharing anything about myself. I’m about to POP to share some things the Lord has been doing in my heart…also “good but hard” things. I am really looking forward to sharing tomorrow…or the next day. So get ready–it’ll probably be one of “those” posts I write…all about the good but hard stuff. Blessings to you!