“And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place
where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” Matthew 2:9-10
Almost six months after my wife and I got married in 2013, I surprised her with a three-day trip to Perdido Beach, Florida. We did all sorts of things together, like deep-sea fishing, shopping, trying lots of local food, and many hours enjoying God’s creation where sand and ocean meet. On the last night, we grilled some fresh catch from the deep sea-fishing adventure and relished the ocean views by the poolside grill. As we enjoyed each other’s company, we began hearing faint shouting to the left of us. Our curiosity growing, we looked over and saw 10-15 people celebrating at a private beach house. They were shouting and applauding, but we couldn’t determine why they were celebrating.
After a few moments of inquisitive observing, we discovered the reason for their joy: sky lanterns! Sky lanterns are of Chinese origin, often used to celebrate. Whatever their reason to party was, they continued lighting countless lanterns. The lanterns would ignite and slowly float upward into the star-spotted sky. They seemed to follow the same invisible trail, occasionally one going berserk. We noticed that the result was always the same: the lanterns would soar to maybe 500+ feet or more, then flicker out, falling to their watery demise, some even bursting into bigger flames! Regardless of how these lanterns were extinguished, the jovial gathering still cheered and acted as if nothing were wrong.
We stopped counting after 100, but the lanterns kept coming. Then of course, we started thinking about how much these lanterns cost and why someone would spend so much money on the same result in a 100+ different ways? Over 6 years later, I can still see the those lanterns flickering away in the night sky, while the people kept shouting . Where was the hope in a situation like this? Those sky lanterns are reminiscent of the idols we put in place of Jesus. We can chase after having a nice car, a big house, our own personal chef that makes all our meals, being the highest paid employee in our office, having the greatest retirement package, a month long paid vacation – the list is endless! There are so many distractions, but if Christ isn’t leading the way, every light we chase always goes out , always bringing the same result, just as those sky lanterns did.
In Matthew’s Gospel, there’s an interesting account of the wise men who came from the east to seek the REAL king, the REAL Light, Jesus Christ. They confront Herod, one of the most feared men of all time, asking where to find him. Intimidated by their presence (because there were more than three wise men), Herod’s scholars discover that Christ was born in Bethlehem. The wise men had seen a star unlike any other two years before their arrival. When they leave Jerusalem and head to Bethlehem, Scripture says, “the star that they had seen” reappears and leads them the rest of the way to find Jesus, the divine king, a child over two years old at this point! Once they find him, they bow down and worship! Their lives were never the same because they believed in Christ and followed HIS star, a star unlike any other, a radiant light that changed the world forever. Jesus Himself would later say, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,” John 8:12.
The New Year is here! What star are you chasing? What sky lantern are you following that will always bring the same result: floating lifeless on the ocean surface. The idols in our lives that replace Jesus will only bring temporary, misguided joy. In the end, the only thing that can truly change us and cause us to live more vibrantly than we ever have before is living for Jesus, the Light of the World, a light that empowers, never goes out, and will never lead us astray.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.