Matt 2:10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
In the Christmas story we often talk about the faith of Mary and of Joseph, but when you think about it, the Magi also had exemplary faith. There is no record that any of them had an angelic visitation, the way Mary and Joseph had, but their faith was more intellectual, based on trusted sources and observations. In any case it had to be strong, because it prompted them to make a major investment of time and resources. “From the east” is a pretty vague reference, but the presumption is that they were Persian, from the area of present-day Iran. Riding camels (again their presumed mode of transportation) it would have taken a matter of weeks to get to Jerusalem. The trip itself would have been expensive, and then there were the famous gifts they presented. All of that, on the basis of sketchy information at best, called for a lot of faith. The point is, even for such men of faith, having things confirmed by seeing the star brought great joy. Most of us have had such experiences, even if not on this scale. We think we’ve heard God and so we act, but when events, or perhaps words spoken by someone who would not have known about our situation, confirm that we had indeed heard Him and done the right thing, the relief and joy are indeed immense. Gideon is famous for asking for, and receiving, two somewhat miraculous confirmations, giving rise to the expression, “putting out a fleece.” (Judges 6:36-40) God likes and commends faith, but he doesn’t beat us up when our faith is weak. The important thing is to exercise the faith we already have, walking it out in practical terms. When we do that, we quickly discover that faith is very much like muscle: when exercised, it gets stronger! We are very prone to be negative about our own level of faith, looking at others and thinking how much stronger their faith is than ours, but such comparisons are not wise, just as Paul said. (2 Corinthians 10:12) Rather, we are to live out the faith we have, trusting God to give us more and to grow us as He knows we need.
I’ve certainly experienced this! I have had people comment on my faith, but what they don’t realize is how many times that faith has felt like it had the thickness of a hair. Like the Magi, I have trusted sources: the Bible and people who have gone before me in obedience to Christ. However, push comes to shove when it comes down to specific actions. Just last night I experienced, and talked about, a system God has used to train me to listen to Him, and that is simply the matter of changing lanes while driving. I’ve found that if I’m sensitive to Him, He will give me a nudge to change lanes, or not. If I am listening, then my flow through traffic is much smoother. Last night there was the specific example of someone turning out of my lane, where my brain said I should change lanes so as not to be caught behind them, and I started to do that. However, I simultaneously realized that I had not gotten the impulse to change from God, and sure enough, the turning vehicle got a break in oncoming traffic just in time to get out of my way. That was an encouraging moment for me, and since I had just been talking about this sort of thing it was a teachable moment for those in the car with me. As I had already explained to those in the car with me, this is excellent “light training” in faith and obedience, because if I miss it, going a little slower isn’t a tragedy. However, it provides immediate feedback for obedience, and that is a blessing indeed. With some things the feedback takes much longer so the faith needs to be stronger, but God provides what I need when I need it, and He is totally faithful!
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the gift of faith and for confirmations that strengthen our faith, even though we walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) Help me exercise fully the faith You provide, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!