Sense of direction draws those closer to their faith | Faithful Living

For as long as I can remember, my husband and I have played “The Direction Game” and it’s executed like this: Stand in the middle of a building and point to a landmark outside. Next, point where you believe north and south are located.

Nearly always my husband and I point in opposite directions, especially at various points along our meandering Whidbey Island. To my chagrin, I have never proved Matt wrong. Not once.

I possess no natural sense of direction but willingly venture off on my own with my Google Maps phone app. Matt, on the other hand, benefits even today from all of those Boy Scout badges he earned and the 50-mile hikes he walked with his boyhood troop. He has developed a seasoned and accurate sense of direction.

Just like those three wise men who traveled from distant lands, following a bright star in the night sky.

You know the ones of whom I speak: the same three who are most often depicted kneeling by the baby Jesus. Although it is not known where these wise men or “Magi” came from, it is commonly believed they made their long journeys from Babylonia, Arabia and Persia, meeting up somewhere along the way. They may have been astrologers, men who read the stars for signs and omens; seems pretty straightforward. How they came to afford their gifts, and exactly how old Jesus was when they arrived, is not readily known.

What is apparent is that each man brought a gift full of value: the gold was a gift fit for a king; the frankincense was a resin that when burned served as a fragrant reminder that God can be experienced, but not always seen; and the myrrh was a scented gum commonly used to help prepare a body for burial.

I am intrigued by the symbolism. These wise men were not Jews, and I am reminded that Jesus entered our world not just for the Jewish nation, but for the Gentiles or non-Jewish people as well.

And I’m drawn to the political intrigue. We are told in Matthew 2 that news of Jesus’ birth spread far and wide. A man named Herod, the king of Judea, was not only interested in the sustained talk, but grew alarmed as people referred to the newborn Jesus as the long-awaited ruler, a shepherd for the people of Israel. Herod called for the Magi when they entered his territory, demanding they reveal Jesus’ whereabouts.

They did not.

Most of all, I am fascinated by their sense of direction. They were men on a mission, carrying valuable items at great personal risk. They never got lost — not in the countryside or in the politics.

What drew them to Mary, Joseph and their very special baby? The very same thing that draws Christians in 2013: the spirit of God. The notion that God came to you and me. That He has the power to mold our hearts, giving us all the capacity to love more deeply, hope when things look hopeless and act with courage when the task seems impractical or unpopular.

Now that is the direction I want to go.

-Joan Bay Klope can be reached at


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