Sitting pretty atop elephant, camel and stallion, the three Seekers navigate the perimeter of my living room. For the last two months, those three ceramic magi have migrated (with a little help) from surface to surface. They’re at the south end of the piano now. Still seeking; looking steadily skywards. Scripture records that the magi didn’t reach child Jesus until months after his birth. My magi present a time-condensed version. They’ll reach the nativity scene at the piano’s north end any day now.
These wise men, historic sages from the East (likely astronomers) weren’t shopping exactly, but certain similarities exist. They left home with a list of one item. Find the newborn King. Determined to reach their goal, they sought with patience, diligence, effort and sacrifice. No distractions allowed. Just find the child all Heaven greeted with celestial light. The Messiah. Saviour. Prophets had predicted his birth for centuries. The constellations indicated his nativity, and one blazing star led the way.
I don’t shop like those Seekers. My list often changes as I go. My focus falls far short of the Magi’s. I’m a bargain shopper, a sales shopper. A dawdler. Even a mere window shopper.
While in Ottawa for a week of work, my colleague and I strolled down one of the streets near Parliament Hill. We’d just left a Christmas party and had chosen to walk back to our hotel rather than accept a ride. Enroute, we passed a string of boutiques decorated for the season, slowing to a stroll to peer into the softly lit windows. Mannequins in casual poses modeled exquisitely crafted clothing and accessories—no prices visible. These were the kind of stores likely entered by well-heeled customers who likely wouldn’t even ask prices. Ottawa’s aristocracy. We may have gone in if they were open, but only to say we’d been there. Neither of us could have dished out the steep costs of the merchandise—being thrifty shoppers, we likely wouldn’t have done so even if we could have.
But offer a bargain and (I’m ashamed to admit) I’ll often snap it up—needed or not. Years ago, I walked into a K-Mart during its last few days of business before closing its doors. As I entered the store, a clerk handed me a cart and told me something remarkable. “Everything you can fit in your cart today is ten bucks.” I left the store with a cart heaped past my eyes with nothing I really wanted and everything I didn’t need.
But those Magi—they weren’t idly shopping. They were seeking the Best Thing. The King of Kings. They did so with patience, diligence, effort and sacrifice. They remind us that of all the things we seek, one thing is best. The gift of a right relationship with God. Constant, comforting, motivating, courage-infusing, peace-filling, strength-providing and hope-giving. A gift available only through Jesus Christ.
Jesus. He’s still the best gift. All you don’t even realize you want. Everything your spirit needs. Wise men and women still seek him.