Captivated, Not Captive

Thomas Blevins

Today’s Reading: Matthew 2:1-2

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
– Matthew 2:1-2

Shiny, bright things can stop you in your tracks and capture your attention. Ask my eight-year-old daughter, Ella Jay. Just yesterday, we walked into our gym and she stopped in awe of a Christmas tree full of garland, ornaments and lights. She dashed over to the tree, dropped to her knees, and began shaking the gifts underneath!

I do something similar every time we walk by the electronics section of Best Buy. My eyes are captivated by the beaming TVs. I don’t remember ever dropping to my knees, but I know every time I walk by I’m bewildered by their light. Things that glitter and gleam captivate us.

Take the Magi for instance; they were mesmerized by a northern star! These distinguished men from the east were drawn by the star’s rising, and followed it through treacherous terrain to an unfamiliar destination. Upon their arrival, they asked an important question: “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?”

These wise men were captivated by a light that drew them to the Christ child. Their attraction was drawn from the star to the Son of God. And do you know what they did next? They got on their knees and worshipped!

Throughout the Christmas season, it will be easy to become captured by something. For many of us, life’s hurts and frustrations bind us from experiencing the joy of the season. Maybe what shines the most for you this season is the past and the pain. Just the thought of hanging lights makes you shudder. Your Christmas memories haven’t ended with angels getting their wings; they just seem to remind you of what you’ve lost and how messy life has been. You want to be captivated, but you feel captured. You’re not alone!  

Every one of us has or will dance with deep despair. But God is not absent, and there is light, even if it seems dim. God never intended to allure us with a dying trend or a fading star in order to imprison us with a lifeless religion. His all-consuming passion was, and always will be, to bring us a life of captivating freedom.

King Herod’s reign in Judea led to a society burdened with gloom, heavy taxation and massacres. It was a dark time in history. Yet the magi found a star's light that led them through that darkness to the undying light. The star they chose to follow was always present, but on that night it pointed them directly into the presence of a King that would break the chains of captivity for a nation and its people. Darkness was pierced by the light. Silence was broken by a baby’s cry. They left captivated, not captive.

So if you find yourself on your knees exhausted, worried or even overcome today, let God’s radiance provide an escape from captivity. “He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light.” Job 12:22

QUESTIONS:

What distractions or despairs could be capturing your attention this Christmas?
How might you invite the darkest of memories and moments into the light today?

PRAYER:

Father, give me the strength to endure the journey today. Help me to find you in the simplest of places and give focus to what you have done. Free me of the burdens that capture my attention and sustain me in my weaknesses. Guide me to be intentional with my time and resources so that I may bring attention to you. Remind me that you are always near. AMEN.