Home By A Different Way     (by Jon Shuler​​)

It is an almost casual line in the last verse of the Epiphany gospel reading (Mt 2:1-12), but it has new meaning for me this year. The three Wise Men had every human reason to honor their word to Herod, but God intervened to show them they were lied to. They needed to go home without going back to Jerusalem. Herod wanted to destroy any opponent to his reign, he did not want to worship the new born King, he wanted to kill him.

There has been much in my 2020 that wants to put to death the revealed truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Much that would prefer me to not live by his law, to not honor his teaching, and to not honor him above all others. There have been political, economic, educational, journalistic, and societal voices – which though sounding benign, are actually working on the side of the Enemy of my soul. They would be pleased to see me gone rather than oppose them. And then there is my own fallen self, warring against the Spirit. So what am I to do?

It seems to me that the Lord is challenging me to “go home by another way.” I have seen no angel in a dream, but I have the deep and persisting sense that my 2021 is not to be like my 2020. What could that mean? I am not sure, but I am praying over this inner conviction. What do I see? There is a sense in which each of us, especially me, is going “home” to the place prepared for us by the Lord Jesus. This year is another part of my journey home. God wants me to be more effective and more productive for his kingdom. (II Peter 1:8)

Many external events have buffeted the church in 2020, and I pray with all of you that this year will see some of them ease. But it does not take external change for many things done in 2020 to be amended, improved, added or dropped. What are doing as the church that is not helping the kingdom, or not making the impact that it should Can we face that? Can we push back the advances of the enemy? Can we improve our readiness to obey?

I sure, that for me, what I am “hearing” relates to things I can change. It is not, for me, about things that are out of my control. I cannot change the course of the pandemic, I cannot alter the political landscape, or change the decline of higher education. But I can choose to be more faithful to the Lord Jesus. I can “work, pray, and give” more effectively “for the spread of the kingdom of God,” as I was taught by the catechism of my youth. These things I can do.

What about you who are reading this? Do you have any personal guidance from the Lord for 2021? Are you hearing his “voice?” Do you have responsibility for others, and the authority to make changes for the kingdom? What would you do if this was the year you would have to give and account for? Would 2021 be just like 2020, or would you “go home by another way?”

Next Week: If I Could Do Only One Thing

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