A couple of weeks ago my pastor, Mike Cavin preached a sermon about the Wise Men coming to find Jesus. They made their way to Jerusalem from somewhere in the East (we don’t know where) and they went to King Herod’s palace to ask where the new king was born. Herod was troubled, and he did not know about the birth of a new king, so he asked his wise men about it. They told him the child was to be born in Bethlehem. King Herod then told the Wise Men, “Go and find the child, then come to tell me where he is so I can worship him also.” (He really meant to kill the child.)
The scripture tells us that an angel appeared to the Wise Men in a dream and told them not to return to Herod’s palace but to go home another way. And they did.
While Dr. Cavin was preaching, I did what a lot of people do when a sermon is being preached - I let my mind wander down a different path. I did not mean to do that, but you’ve listened to sermons before, and you know it happens. I always knew when I preached that if anyone heard at least five minutes of my sermon, that was a good thing.
I began to think about the path the Wise Men took, first to get to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, then the path they took to go home to wherever they lived. I wondered if they had ever traveled those paths before, or were they seeing country they had never seen before. I’ve been to Israel, and I know that there are some beautiful places to see, and there are some rugged places to see.
They might have come to Jerusalem on a well-traveled route through Galilee and down the Jordan Valley to Jericho and then up to Jerusalem. They might have returned through the valley of Sharon near modern Tel Aviv and seen the beautiful coastline. My imagination tells me they saw country they had never seen before, that they traveled strange paths all the way on their journey.
Along the way they probably had to ask several people for the best way to get from where they were to where they were going, and I suspect they found some people very helpful to them. Possibly those people told them, “And you must stop by the small village about three miles from here and eat at Micah’s house!” That would have been the best place to get a meal.
How like our own lives that could be. We are at the beginning of a brand new year, and some of us have made plans for what should happen later in the year. I, myself have trips planned in the spring and in the fall, and there may be another trip in the summer. A truth I know is that none of that may happen for me. There is no way to predict accurately what is going to happen. We may be called to travel a strange path we never anticipated.
Who can know if some terrible accident will happen and it will take the rest of the year to recover? Who can know if we suddenly have to move our family to another part of the country for a new job or to care for someone in our extended family? Who can know what might divert us from the path we hope lies ahead of us, and who can know what we might find on the strange path we follow?
The Wise Men were able to find the Savior of the world, though what they found was a baby. They could not know even at that time what this child would become, nor would they know what it would mean for him to become the savior of the world. But they knew the child was special, and they were glad to bring him gifts.
Who can know what we will find in our own path this year? Some young person may meet the person who will become their mate for the rest of their lives, and someone might be let go from their job only to find the vocation they have always dreamed of. We never know as we go down our path.
What I have always known is that we do not follow the path alone. God is always with us. So listen to your dreams to see what strange path you might be called to follow.
Dr. Jay Hodges can be reached at Jayhodges610@yahoo.com.