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Don’t be burdened by the guilt of the past

Anyone who got to know Jason would say that he was a restless kind of guy. He had done well in grade school with hardly any studying at all. His friends thought that things came easy to him—-he had a lot of natural ability. Yet, for some reason Jason wasn’t a happy person. He received a scholarship to a fancy private Catholic high school, but too his parents great disappointment, decided not to take advantage of it, and went to the local public school instead. After graduation Jason went to college, but got caught up with the drinking and social scene. And although he did graduate, he could have done much better than he did. He was a personable guy, and had many girlfriends, but would always shy away when things started to get serious in the relationship.

Jason also would change jobs pretty frequently. Since graduating from college he was in his third job.

One thing that Jason was very proud of was his motorcycle. He loved to race around from place to place, never paying attention to speed limits and loving that he wasn’t required to wear a helmet any more.

One night during the Christmas season, Jason was out with a particularly wild group of friends, and was drinking way too much. When it came time to leave, his friends tried to convince him to stay and sleep it off, but he would have none of that. So, off he sped into the night. It was one of those super cold nights and the roads around where he lived (still with his parents) were very hilly. At one particular curve, Jason wasn’t focused enough to slow down, and by the time he realized, it was too late. He ended up crashing into a stone wall and shattered his right leg so badly that the doctors said he would probably have to loose it.

Jason was in the hospital for several weeks recovering. One day, his friend Kate came to see him. Jason had known her since grade school. She was one of the few people that he maintained some type of serious friendship with. As she walked into the room Jason came right out with the news that he had just received that he would probably have to loose his leg. “Look at the mess I’m in now”, he said. Don’t I have all the luck. Maybe it would have been better if I had just died in that crash.”

Kate looked right at him and said with a smile, “God isn’t ready for you yet! But, seriously, Jason, this can be a real wake up call for you. Let’s face it, you’ve always been to me a guy who never took life seriously. You were always expecting some big break through that would just be handed to you on a silver plater, but life’s rarely like that. And you’ve had opportunities which you walked away from because they weren’t what you had thought you wanted for yourself. I think that God spared your life for a reason. There’s something you need to do and I really believe that God wants to show you what that is. Stop being so restless, and just flitting from one thing to the other. Stop asking the wrong questions and start to answer this question: What’s my purpose in life? What does God want from me? This may sound kind of strange, but as tough as this experience has been for you, it could be the best thing that has happened.”

Jason certainly had much to think about. Maybe what Kate was saying to him was true. Could this be a wake up call? And maybe one of the things that he had been searching for was staring him right in the face the whole time—that he allow God in his life so that he can find a sense of direction and purpose. Maybe he needed to pay attention to what his friend was saying.

On Epiphany Sunday, we focus on the wise men or Magi. One way of looking at them is to see these three individuals as people who were searching. And because they were searching, they were restless. But God stepped into their lives by way of a star. And that star brought them to something that calmed their restlessness. They found in the manger what they were looking for, and they could return to their homes, men transformed.

In the story about Jason, the “star” took a very different form—-the tragic accident. And although it seemed on the surface to be the end of his life, it was really the chance to begin again. God was speaking to him through the words of his friend. He was now going to travel a different path, and because of his experience, would be lead to a place where he could find answers.

Many of us are searching. Many of us are restless. Is Christ trying to place a “star” in our lives that will be some type of guide for us? A challenge, a struggle with a weakness, a setback, these can all be opportunities to change course and be brought to something greater.

Ask Jesus to help you figure out which “star” you are to follow so that you can become more settled, less restless, more at home with the Lord.

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