2008-12-24 - Double Take: How to Leap into Faith
It was an ordinary evening; the shepherds were minding their flocks. The life of a shepherd was predominantly spent outside, keeping constant care to make sure the sheep didn't wander off. It would be easy to get mesmerized by the beautiful landscape, but the temperament of the sheep did not allow the shepherds much time for daydreaming or sightseeing. A shepherd had to check and recheck that all the animals were accounted for. If one was lost, it was the shepherd's duty to find the sheep. All of a sudden - out of nowhere, an angel appeared in the night sky. The men were fearful, as anyone would be. The angel told them not to be afraid, for that night, a Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in a manger in the city of David. Then a host of angels appeared, praising the Lord. Once all the angels had vanished, the shepherds immediately journeyed to find the Savior. They were unanimous in their decision to travel to Bethlehem. They didn't ponder over it or shrug off the supernatural experience.
"And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger." (Luke 2:16 NKJ)
Faith and Focus
At first glance, the shepherds were uneasy at the appearance of an angel. We, too, can become apprehensive when we are called to do something that seems impossible or out of the ordinary. Our mind plays and replays scenarios that appear to be true, and we may imagine the worst possible results. For instance, we might:
The shepherds did not let fear keep them captive. Instead, they took a step of faith. They persisted and remained focused on their mission: to find the baby Jesus. Once the shepherds located the newborn, they did not keep their discovery a secret. The men glorified the Lord, and everyone who heard of the shepherds marveled at their experience. A Shepherd and His Sheep Society may not have cast a gleaming eye on the profession of shepherd, the Lord held the title in high esteem. Not only did He choose shepherds to be the first eyewitnesses of Christ's Earthly birth, but God also refers to Himself as a shepherd in Ezekiel 34. God is our protector. He does not abandon us. If we are faced with a difficult circumstance or a confusing situation, the Lord will make things right. He will intercede on our behalf, because we are His sheep. We trust our caretaker. There is a bond between a shepherd and his sheep.
A shepherd watches over his sheep. He is responsible for the flock. Sheep, in turn, follow the shepherd. Jesus is described as our shepherd in John 10.. He gave life to us, His sheep. He cares what happens to us. We do not have to stumble or fall. As our leader, the Lord leads us in the right direction. Jesus would rather endure pain, alienation from His father, and death than to see us suffer for our sins. Some may pretend to be true shepherds, but as God's people, imposters should not fool us. We know our shepherd's voice. We listen and obey. (John 10:4) The shepherds had never seen an angel before that night, and they had never before observed a newborn Savior, and yet these men followed after God's promise. We, too, can act in faith, knowing our Heavenly shepherd will be there when we need Him.
The author welcomes comments or questions on this devotional article.