Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.
For my son’s entire life, since the time he was born, we have read the scriptures to him and done our best to teach him about the love and grace of God. Every year we have done advent readings and activities leading up to Christmas so he is familiar with the story of Jesus’ birth. But this year is different. He’s at an age now where he’s not just listening to what we say or what he reads. He’s really starting to process it for himself. And it’s leading to some really great and challenging questions.
Most recently, we got into a conversation about the wise men. Why are they called that? How did they know which star was THE star? Were there really three of them? Why did they bring such weird presents?
I absolutely love talking to him about his questions and digging deeper into what the bible says but this conversation happened on a particularly exhausting day and at first I sort of brushed him off with simple answers instead of really engaging. But the Spirit of God tugged at my heart and later on, I sat with him and talked more about his questions.
He asks questions I’ve never thought to ask. And in this situation, the one that stuck out to me was, “How did they know that the star was THE star?”
I don’t know.
We know they would have been very familiar with the night sky and noticed if something was out of place or unusual during that time. But even so – how did they know for sure? How were they sure enough to set out on this epic journey?
Mary was visited by an angel. So was Joseph. So were the shepherds. But the magi? They just knew.
And I think about the times in my life when I have been sure of something God is saying or doing in my life. But if I was ever pressed on it and asked how I know, I wouldn’t have an answer beyond, “I just know.” I used to envy people who have a better answer. People who can point to a sign or a moment that made it all clear. But as I get older, I’m becoming more ok with just knowing. How do I know the call God has on my life? I just know. How do I know that He is still leading us even through this strange and difficult year? I can point to examples and recall His promises but more than that, I just know. And although I’m not a master theologian or an expert on the scriptures, I have to wonder if the magi would have said the same thing.
“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.”
They just knew.
My prayer for myself, my family, and all of us as we approach Christmas is that we would remember the wonder and amazement of Jesus’ birth as if we’re hearing about it for the first time. That we would remember God’s promises to be with us always. That He does send us signs and wonders. But that he also whispers to our hearts in ways we can’t always explain. And that it’s ok if sometimes … we just know.