I have the privilege of hearing people’s stories around work and calling every week. Let me introduce you to three people (not their real names) who are asking: “where’s my star of Bethlehem?”
Meet Michelle. She has been a successful freelancer in the field of marketing for years, until last year. Her big client that has given her so many creative outlets, decided to not renew their contract. Life has given her many other transitions that compelled her to grab a job, any job. Although successful at this new work, it does not use what she best at, and drains her most days. Where is God in all this, she asks me.
Also meet John. He has been an outstanding athlete for many years, pushing his abilities into professional status, but his career is winding down in that arena. He comes to me wondering where do I go next, and how do I transfer what I have developed in athletics to some other field?
Finally, meet Bill. He has successfully built a career in the world of finance, and made a career move that looked like a platform for great success. One problem, he has a “terrorist” for a boss. Even with great success, he is wounded and looking for new employment. Where do I even begin at 50+ years of age?
All of us live in a new world of “employment at will world” – I will employ you as long as I like, and you will keep this job as long as I like. The average today, for American workers, is to have 14 jobs before 38 years old. That is a lot of change and uncertainty. Perhaps most troubling is the lack of continuity that this amount of flux creates in our lives.
Enter into this picture the stories of the birth of Jesus. What all of the characters have in common is their willingness to live a life guided by God, rather than the conventions of the world around them. Zechariah miming to his wife (he can’t talk) that she will be pregnant way past when that is even possible. Mary trying to explain to Joseph the angel’s announcement of pregnancy without his involvement. Wiseman giving it all up for a star they are to follow. Shepherds being blown away by a heavenly choir that directs them to a small town South of Jerusalem. Guidance in all these cases, causing them to trust God more than their natural instincts, their circumstances, or even their imaginations can fathom. Faith becomes active in their obedience to God’s call, rather than the Road more traveled of convention and predictability.
In my opinion, guidance by the Holy Spirit in all the forms that it takes is THE SECRET WEAPON of the Christian life. Complicated and sometimes confusing as it is, one of the clear messages of this season is God’s willingness, even eagerness to guide us when the world is a topsy turvy reality. The hard part is discerning what God is revealing to us – getting the angel to show up, the star to move, the choir to sing, or even the dream that warns us of danger. Nonetheless, God wants us to seek after guidance for our lives that can help make sense of all the uncertainty and change that revolves us in our work and in our world.
In what ways does God direct your path? Is it clear, clouded, or seem impossible.