I’m not a big fan of the earlier part of the day. I’d like to be, but it just doesn’t seem to be part of my DNA. But every once in a while, I will wake up at what I not-so-affectionately call “a quarter to stupid”. I used to just find it irritating. More recently, though, I’ve decided to embrace this unrequested wakeup call as having some purpose: I ask God, “Why have you awakened me? Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” – after Samuel in the Old Testament.
This happened to me on Thursday this week. I was tired when I went to bed, but after only about four and a half hours’ sleep, I woke up, and despite my best efforts, could not return to sleep. So I spent some extra time with the Lord, and even walked to the bank machine to make a deposit. While I was walking, and the sun was slowly beginning to rise, I saw a bright star shining in the east. It was the morning star.
Though there were no audible voices, no words written in the sky, I knew this was God speaking. I walked home with assurance of the Lord’s presence. And when I returned home, I sat down to read Scripture. The assigned passage for the day began like this: “Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him” (Matthew 2.1-2, NLT).
All I could do was shake my head in wonder and praise. It’s not yet the common time of year to be reading the Epiphany story, but my current devotional exercises have me contemplating the incarnation of Jesus in these weeks. And on Thursday morning, as I walked in the chilly darkness, I felt like I was part of the story.
Do you know that all of us are part of the story? Those Gentile soothsayers traipsed a very long distance following that star, and by their entrance into the story of Jesus Christ, they paved the way for us to enter the story of Jesus Christ.
Pay attention to your surroundings. Admire the details as you walk in your community. Listen to the sounds drawn to your ears. You never know when God will speak to your heart, and tell you that you are part of the story.