Sunday, January 8, 2012

On Being Led

As with gladness men of old,
Did the guiding star behold,
As with joy they hailed its light,
Leading onwards, beaming bright,
So, most gracious God, may we
Evermore be led to thee

Today, Sunday January 8, 2012, is the feast of the Epiphany, recalling the star in the sky, and the Three Kings who followed it. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy (Mt 2:10). This event, like many others, is called a theophony, a manifestation of God’s power and presence, perceived by all. There have been many theophonies in Scripture, the parting of the Red Sea, wine turned into water and other miracles of Jesus, and more recently the miracle of the sun at Fatima. Believers and non-believers saw these things. They happened.

Reading those opening lines (above) of the Evening Prayer Hymn, I recalled that visible miracle of the star, but in reading the words tonight, my mind’s eye read something other than the written words. I read the last lines as being: “So most gracious God, may we evermore be led BY thee.”

Then I realized my mistake.

I often pray to know God’s will, and to be led BY Him, but the words of the hymn spoke of being led TO Him, as the Magi were that night long ago. And I pondered the difference in those words I had thought and read.

A friend wrote to me last night about her son, who believed that he need not pray daily to God, since God expects us to use the talents He gave us to live out our daily lives. She asked for words or references to explain the importance of daily prayer to him. I responded (in much too much length, I’m afraid) that he was right about needing to use the talents we were blessed with, but confused on why we should pray. Only rarely should we pray for God to do miraculous things, theophonies, in the world, but rather daily we should pray that when WE do things, we do them in alignment with His will (which is the way I first read the words of the hymn, “to be led BY thee.”). As her son stated correctly, God expects us to use our talents each day, but our talents by themselves are not enough to know WHAT we should do, since we face so many choices. Our first choice should be to do what He would will us to do, as if He were here doing it Himself. We are to be His instruments in this world, living as He showed us how to live. So to clarify what we should do, our daily prayer should be for Wisdom, to know His will, that we might do it.

But as I said, I initially read that line of the hymn wrong. I read it that we should be led by Him, as I believed true. But the hymn is more basic: it says that before I can be led BY Him, I (like the Magi) must first be led TO Him. You can’t begin to live like Him until you first find Him.

With the Magi a miracle occurred, and because they could see the theophony of the star, they believed, but blessed are they “who believe without seeing.” Faith is believing without seeing, and like the star, it too is a miracle, but one that is not seen like the star but no less important. We can’t really follow Jesus unless we believe He is here, now, with us each day. He’s not a God who came in time and worked miracles we can only read about in the Bible. We need the faith that He is a God who can work miracles in our hearts, today, that He can clarify how we should use our talents.

I have a friend who is likely dying. I believe she thinks about and speaks to Jesus each day. Is that what it takes before we do the same?

Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright
Need they no created light,
Thou its light, in joy, its crown,
Thou its sun which goes not down;
There for ever may we sing
Alleluias to our king.

The Wise Men found Him and laid treasures at His feet. If we are blessed to search for and find Him, what will we lay at His feet? Might I suggest our will, that we might follow where He would lead us?

1 comment:

  1. Tom-wanted to let you know that I passed a "liebster" award on to you. Thanks for writing your wonderful blog! Prayers for you!