“When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” Matthew 2:10 NLT.
Spiritual exhilaration is momentary, but the discovery of Jesus impacts a lifetime.
My thoughts and comments today are about “exhilarating moments”
Sitting in a quiet house this morning after Christmas, I am struck by the contrast between this moment and yesterday when this room was filled with our family – kids, spouses, in-laws, grandkids, a great granddaughter, and a great grandson “on the way.” There was cooking, activity, laughter, conversations, busyness, fun and games, and exchanging gifts – with loving appreciation and good will to one and all. It was exhilarating. The gifts under the tree are now opened and gone; the families have departed. Now, the calm and quiet seem deafening.
In the Christmas narrative, Matthew reports the visit of the Magi, the Wise Men from the East. “When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” Read Matthew 2:1-12. Anticipation, consecration, and finally celebration marked their journey. Who were they? From where did they come? How did they know to follow the mysterious, miraculous star? How long did they journey? What prompted the gifts they gave? But I think of a more important question. How did such miraculous direction from afar and such an exhilarating moment of discovery impact the rest of their lives? Spiritual exhilaration is momentary, but the discovery of Jesus impacts a lifetime.
“They fell down and worshipped Him. Then they . . gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. But when it was time to leave, they went home another way.” Matthew 2:11-12 NLT. Inevitably, they returned to the routines and responsibilities of everyday life. Allow me a bit of a writer’s “poetic license” about the words, “They went home another way.” I know that refers to the Magi not retracing their steps to Jerusalem because of God’s warning them about Herod’s evil intent for the child. But for me, the words suggest a practical application: Christmas, the truth of God coming into your world, should be a permanently life-changing experience, not just an exhilarating moment.
If you understand the historical and personal reality of God loving you enough to give His Son and His Son giving Himself to be your Savior, you will not live as you did before such transformative knowledge entered your heart. Because of Christ’s birth, our calendar changed from BC to AD, “Before Christ” to “Anno Domini,” a Latin phrase that means, “Year of our Lord.” His birth changes everything and anyone forever! Christmas is a good time for lasting change. See Romans 6:4 NIV.
Jesus’ birth replaced man’s sinful plight with a spiritual destiny – any man’s history with every man’s possibilities – and man’s abysmal record with a Godly legacy, changing prejudices, temperament, habits, history, regrets, lusts, and vices. “For if a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether – the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new. All this is God’s doing, for he has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 Phillips. Now that is an exhilarating life.
Christmas Day is past, but Christmas’ exhilarating celebration should not be over. Do you return to the usual, or does Christmas invite a new normal? Life is like that, exhilarating moments followed by the routines and responsibilities of daily life. If you can return contentedly to being who you were, doing what you were doing, and living as you pleased, then what you celebrated may have been a “Happy Holiday,” but was not the “Merry Christmas” God intends for you. Christmas is not a single day; Christmas is Christ born anew and living in your heart every day. See John 17:3 NIV.
My prayer for you today is that your celebration of Jesus is transformative.