“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…And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”- Matthew 2:9-10, 12
In no way do I want to present myself as a Scrooge proclaiming “Bah humbug!”, but I have found that there are times that this season of DELIGHTS can quickly and unexpectedly become filled with DETOURS. In one of our favorite Christmas movies, HOME ALONE, a boy named Kevin (played by Macaulay Culkin) is left behind while his family was traveling to France for the holidays. Upon realizing their grand faux pas, Kevin’s mother does everything in her power to get back home as soon as possible. Despite finding delays at each airport due to the weather and overbooked flights she is able to make it all work (via trading personal jewelry for a ticket and hitching a ride with a polka band led by John Candy) and triumphantly arrives home with Kevin running into her arms just in time for the first snowfall of Christmas morning!
The detours that people face at Christmas move us from a festive mood to a furious or fretful one. Each of us have dealt with some sort of Christmas delay: a gift order that has not arrived in time to be wrapped and placed under the tree; preoccupying the kids rabidly from opening presents as you wait for a family member to show up; a drive that takes twice the normal time as people attempt to get out of town. Even with all of these potential pitfalls, I have yet to mention the crowds in the shopping malls (you may want to stop reading this article to start shopping)! I remember one Christmas driving all over the southland, visiting three sets of parents, to partake in what I can only describe as speed greeting, eating, and present opening. The rush was too much, as our oldest son became sick with a double ear infection. At that moment I made a vow to not get caught in the assembly line of Christmas Day activity ever again.
For some this Christmas has its own set of demands and difficulties that has you struggling to find joy, peace, and hope. There are some who have found out they have to work or are strenuously looking for employment. There are some who grieving the passing of a loved one or are wrapping their arms around being apart from family who live in another state. There are others whose holiday struggle is due to a painful memory. As we enter the month of December, I want to speak comfort to all you face and speak confidence that the Lord will lead you to a new place! One of the kings of detours, David, says it this way in Psalm 143:10, “Teach me to do Your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
Just as God led Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem when she was ready to give birth; just as He led the Wise Men to the place the Child was; and just as He led Simeon and Anna to hold onto the promise of seeing the Messiah, God has a Christmas destination for the detours you are facing. This Christmas be led by the Lord’s Spirit, by protected by the Lord’s outstretched arm, and be provided by the gift of His perfect love. The Lord will arrive at the right time and will wrap you in His arms in such a way that the ending of this season will be glorious, and the grind will be forgotten!