The Epiphany: The Ultimate Road Trip
It was the ultimate road trip. The destination was unclear. Perhaps the joy would be found in the traveling. They journeyed in the dark, led by a star, a star that led them to the Light. T. S. Eliot, in his poem the Journey of the Magi, concludes the story like this:
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
The boy, the girl, started with pot, and then graduated to being a living pharmaceutical factory. He was cool. She was cool. Way cool. He was popular. She was popular. At least, among the other druggies. They ploughed their way through life, one train wreck after another, destroying and being destroyed, until one day Grace overcame them and called them to a journey, a road trip if you will. They walked in darkness, not sure of where they would end up, but feeling a great deal of fulfillment just in the fact that they were finally traveling away, and traveling to. They knew they had ruined much of their lives, but they also knew that they had a great deal of their lives left. And there was the goal. The goal was to find the Lord. It was not an easy search.
They went to all the wrong places, often getting the wrong directions. They even went to the court of the so called leader of the religious people, Herod by name, a pious Jew by acclaim, a worst sinner than they by reality. There are a lot of sinners out there. But even sinners live surrounded by truth And through the counseling, the drug rehab programs, the N.A. meetings, they were led to Bethlehem, they sought the healing strength of the Savior. They gave themselves as presents to the true King of the Jews.
And then they returned to their lives, to those places of darkness they used to embrace. But instead of darkness, they found light, and wisdom, and the radiance of Jesus. And others saw the Christ in them. They looked back at the journey and realized that it was hard, and wonderful. They would gladly do it again.
Another boy, another girl, were overpowered by the forces of lust. In the name of love, they lost their ability to love. There was porn, and casual sex, and the objectification of others that led to a meaningless marriage, a marriage where the only concern was to take. They told others that they were enlightened, modern, fulfilled. They weren’t. They were needy, primitive, and in darkness.
But then Grace drew them away. It was Christmas, or Easter, or whatever, and they began to question their lives. They had no meaning, no purpose. They missed Jesus. So, they went on a road trip. It was not a pleasant journey. The darkness kept over-powering them. But they kept their eye on the goal. And, yes, they stumbled at times. They were often convinced that they fell more than they stood. But they kept their minds set on the journey. They leapt into the Presence of the Lord. They found Him. Or He found them. Then they returned. They were dead to their past. Yes, the temptations of the human condition assaulted them. Yes, they had moments of missing sin, moments of longing for the days of darkness, but their joy at the birth, the new life of Christ within them, was not momentary. It was eternal. Like the poet, Eliot, they willing embraced a death that would give them such a wonderful life. They lived under the Mercy of God. And others saw the Christ in them.
We are all on the journey, the ultimate road trip. We are all called away from the hollow life, the life of a dead world. We are all called away from darkness. The journey is not easy. Others mock us, call us Jesus freaks, and hypocrites. They tempt us with the very objects of desire that we used to embrace. “Come to the party, there will be great stuff there. Be sure to have someone watch your kids for the next day, you probably won’t be returning home till who knows when. And who knows who you will end up with? Hey, what’s with you? Why do you say now that what you did before was bad when you know you loved doing it? Come back to our lives, to your old life.”
It is all there for our taking. It is there for our losing. We would have to sacrifice the journey. We would have to give up seeking the goal, seeking Jesus Christ.
We have to fight them off, all these temptations that are drowning us, sucking His Life out of us. We have to fight them off and we can, because the goal of the journey is so wonderful, so delightful, that nothing can ever replace it. Nothing can ever replace Him.
And so we are overwhelmed by Joy, the Joy of the Lord. One tradition calls the magi Kings. Another refers to them as wise men. When we join them on the journey of life, we are both. We are wise because we see the reality of Life with Jesus, and we are kings because we reign with Him in the Kingdom of God. And His Life becomes our lives. And His purpose becomes our purpose. He came for no less than the transformation of the world. We live for no reason other than to join Him in the Quest. We live for Jesus Christ. We live for the Kingdom.
They call this feast the Epiphany, the showing of the Lord. And it is true. When we walk away from the darkness, when we walk to the light and embrace Jesus Christ, the Lord is shown to us in every aspect of life. And we show His Presence to others.
Are the temptations too great? Is the night too dark? No, no power is greater than His. No darkness can smother His Light. We can be epiphanies, manifestations of His presence to others.