When God Becomes Real

By Rev. Dr. Bobbie McKay  •  January 12, 2023

I was at my computer, minding my own business, when Lew walked by my desk carrying a Bible. Lew is my husband and we both worked at home. It wasn’t too unusual to see him with a Bible as we have several around the house. But he had a look on his face that said “Something has just happened to me and I want to tell you about it!”

I stopped what I was doing and said something like “Sure…happy to listen” which I truly was because I was married to a man whose creative “juices” were like pure chocolate just waiting to melt in my mouth. 

What if a Wiseman was Married?

“Well you know the story of the wise men,” he started. “What if one of them was married and he had clearly been gone from home a very long time….” “Yes”, I said with some encouragement. “Well he had to go home to his wife and try to explain what he had been doing while he was gone. And I think it would be interesting to write an opera about his going home and trying to tell the story about the star and the baby and the stable…you know the story.”

“I do…and it’s a great story of the Christ Child’s birth. But it’s also the story of a man who followed a star and found a new life while he was still living in his ‘old’ life. That was going to take some adjusting. Big changes in one partner in a marriage have to be incorporated into the other partner’s life. It’s a great idea for an opera.”

And so the opera was conceived and entitled “The King’s Journey” about the return home of a Wiseman whose life had been entirely transformed by seeing the Christ child. Lew would write the outline for the story and some lyrics which I could change at will. My music would take the storyline and let each character develop it with musical signatures. Our creative abilities were so attuned that my response was instantaneous. Immediately, I began to hear melodies and harmonies, and the opera was birthed.

Our Creative Identity

Each of us has a creative identity that is directly connected to our spirit. It opens a door to a huge chamber of energy that is waiting to be discovered and encouraged. Lew’s ideas connected to my musical brain and my ideas began to flow. Our Wiseman began to sing of his experience of going home and trying to share his transformation with his wife.

The Epiphany story is a marvelous example of the birth of spirit in an ordinary person whose life has suddenly been disconnected from its usual anchors and placed into a new plot line in which everything is changed.

But that isn’t the end of our story. Our Wiseman has to go back into his familiar life with his new experience of living and somehow pull the pieces together to fit into a new life. But he is so changed that he is still trying to understand the depth of what has happened to him. And he has no explanations for any of it at all.

The Wiseman’s Story is Our Story

And so our Wiseman’s story is really our story of what happens when God enters into our lives and the plot lines begin to change. New directions appear and new understanding flows out of new experiences. We find powerful changes occurring without effort or energy. New meanings translate into life-changing transformations. We have become the new creation of a Creator God who longs to be seen and understood.

The story of Epiphany is really the story of God reaching into the world to create a connection with God’s Creation. All the events in the story are links to the reality of God in the world.

Our Wiseman follows the course of a brilliant star and is miraculously connected to an unknown baby whom God has endowed with God’s Spirit and God’s Presence.

And in that mysterious and powerful connection, when God becomes real for him, our Wiseman is transformed into a new creation and begins a new journey home. His life has become a powerful statement of the reality of God in the world.

May our Epiphany begin in this very moment when God becomes “real” in each of our lives. And may God’s “other name” always become our moment of thanks-giving; SURPRISE!


Rev. McKay will be teaching an Enliven course entitled, Making God REAL in Your Life, on Tuesdays, 2:00 – 3:00 (ET), beginning Feb 21 through March 28 (6 sessions).  Ever had a God Experience? Based on more than 2,000 conversations, Rev. McKay discovered that most people have—they just don’t know how or with whom to talk about it. This course will help participants reveal God who is present and available and life-changing. In these six 1-hour “no homework/no judgment sessions”, you will explore your God experiences and how to develop deeper connections with God as a constant companion accessible 24/7. To register, go to www.unitedchurchhomes.org/enliven/

About the Author

Rev. Dr. Bobbie McKay

Rev. Bobbie McKay, Ph.D., is a UCC minister, author and licensed psychologist. Rev. McKay cocreated the Spiritual Health Center, NFP, and conducted a research study on spiritual life in the United Church of Christ. Based on the findings of this study, Spiritual Life Teams were born, and the study has been extended to the Episcopal church, the Catholic church and the Reform Jewish Community in the greater Chicago area as well as to Islamic populations in New York, Illinois and Florida. Rev. McKay currently works as pastoral associate in Spiritual Life at Glenview Community Church in Glenview, Illinois.

View all articles by Rev. Dr. Bobbie McKay