And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. - Matthew 2:12
I've spent many hours sleeping lately because on Dec 22, on the way out the door to pickle ball, I fell on the ice in my driveway and got a nasty concussion. Then, on top of that, I got a vicious case of stomach flu after Christmas which kept me down in a different way for 5 full days. Other than on Christmas Eve, when I got up to do the services, I have spent much of the past 10 days sleeping. I was not able to follow through with my plans to take Bo to Washington DC for the week, which was disappointing, but it was clear that God had different plans for me and they included my staying put and lying still. I had no choice but to follow.
I certainly got plenty of rest, and that has been a good thing. One morning late last week I saw myself in the mirror and wondered why I looked so different. I realized that it was because there were no circles under my eyes - that this is how I look well rested. Soon after that, I happened to hear a podcast on NPR stressing how vitally important sleep is for one's health. It was then I recognized a message coming through loud and clear - my New Year's resolution this year needed to be getting more sleep each night!
God gives us guidance when we listen, and when we don't listen, God sometimes has ways of making us listen. The kings in the Epiphany story were good listeners, able to discern God's guidance from the stars, their interactions with others and their dreams (they obviously recognized the value of a good night's sleep!) They were sojourners - pilgrims who allowed God to lead the way in their lives. They could discern a bigger story unfolding in the midst of worldly affairs - and they chose to follow God's lead rather than the world's lead. So even though King Herod told them a smooth lie about how excited he was to hear about the newborn king, the wise men discerned God calling them to go home by an alternative route rather than report back as Herod had requested.
Often God leads us in very different directions than we might have expected. Sometimes that is disappointing, other times it is exciting. But no matter what, we can follow God's sometimes surprising lead without fear when we know and trust God, our guiding star.
May 2018 bring us all wonderful returning and rest.