40 Days of Prayer: Day 40
It’s Christmas Day! Merry Christmas from all of us at Hydrate Church! Consequently, it’s also the end of our 40 day prayer journey together. It also means this is the last daily blog for a while. We will slow down the frequency a bit, but don’t worry, we will keep them coming regularly.
Christmas, in many ways, is the end of a journey. You have probably been planning this day for months. Lists have been meticulously created and each item checked off. Cards, carefully printed and dutifully mailed, have reached their destinations spreading joy with flash-framed smiles and hand-curled words of love. Plane tickets have been reserved. Automobile gas tanks have been filled. And guest rooms have been prepared. Grocery store shelves have been emptied; their contents masterfully combined to make delectable treats, succulent meats and delicious sides. All for Christmas.
Do you ever just sit down after the last present is opened and take in the scene with a long sigh of relief? The paper that was wrapped so beautifully now crumbled and stuffed inside the bulging bags destined for the curb-side trash can. The guest bathroom has become a dressing room filled with giggles and “how do I look?” questions. Toys have been released from surgery—panels removed, batteries inserted. How do you feel in that moment? Does it seem like you have reached the end of a long journey? Are you tired? Do you want to rest? Do you miss it already?
Strange things happen at the end of a journey. Even though it may have been exhausting, sometimes we miss the experience of preparing and working toward our destination. The struggle takes on a different meaning once you come through it. In those reflective moments we may wish to return to the way it was before. These feelings of nostalgia need to be met with a stronger reminder that the end of one journey is the beginning of another.
Think about the Magi from Matthew 2. For generations, they had waited for a particular star to appear. We know they expected the star because of their response to it: they left their homeland and sought for a new born king. What a random thing to do; or so it would seem to be until we read the book of Daniel written over 630 years before the star’s birth. Daniel, in the book that bears his name, was placed in charge of the Magi of Babylon (chapter 2). It would stand to reason then that Daniel, a Hebrew, taught the Magi about the Jewish king who would be born centuries later. Each generation of Magi passed down Daniel’s teachings while keeping trained eyes to the sky. On the night the star appeared, the Magi—nearly seventeen generations later—followed it until it rested above Jesus’ home. Now, that is a long journey!
Imagine their relief. What would it feel like to complete a 630 year journey? Imagine their horror. Their identity had become engulfed by the task. What were they to do now? I believe that Magi understood the purpose of their lives to be greater than a single journey. Just as quickly as they followed the star, they left Jesus and his family. They realized that celebrating the journey too long would endanger their purpose. So, being warned in a dream they left secretly.
“And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by anothe route.”
— Matthew 2:12
The Magi understood that their journey had ended, and they were ready to begin a new journey. Herod had previously met the Magi; therefore, had they stayed, Jesus would have been easy to find when Herod went on his rampage. When we get caught up in a single journey whether it’s a Christmas celebration, raising our kids, our work life, our church life, or ______________________ (fill in your obsession), we endanger our purpose. The things we hold on to too tightly wind up getting crushed more times than not. So, enjoy the journey. Celebrate when it comes to its end. Remember it fondly, and start preparing for your next big adventure.
God bless you and merry Christmas!