Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What Became of the Shepherds?



"That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. 'Don't be afraid!' he said. 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior - yes, the Messiah, the Lord - has been born today in Bethlehem, the City of David. And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.'
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others - the armies of heaven - praising God and saying,
'Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.'
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, 'Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joesph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing Him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherd's story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them."
Luke 2: 8-20


There the story of the shepherds ends. What a story it is. Heaven itself opened up to these humble men and the glory of the Lord surrounded them. Surely their lives could never be the same.

I have thought about them - about what happened in the days following those miraculous encounters. The scriptures tell us they went back to their flocks, back to their ordinary lives. Did they wonder what would happen next? As the days slipped into weeks and eventually into years, and the images of that long ago night began to fade, did they begin to have nagging little questions and perhaps a bit of doubt? During the long lonely nights on the very same hillside, did their gaze shift heavenward hoping for a further sign? Did they long to hear news of the baby and His parents? Were they discouraged when it looked as though He had simply vanished?

Thirty years later, did word reach them about the young carpenter from Nazareth who said He was the Messiah? Did they hear of the miracles and did their hearts race at the news? Were they waiting expectantly for the Promised One to take His rightful place? Did their hearts break when news of His crucifixion reached their little town?

I wonder (I hope)if the news of His resurrection somehow reached them. If it did, did the vision of that long ago night burst into their hearts once again? Did they see, in their mind's eye, that little baby now become their Savior? Did they rejoice once again knowing the long wait was over; the promise was fulfilled? Fulfilled in a way they could not possibly have foreseen. How could they have known that the little baby they saw that long ago night would one day live in their hearts? It was even more glorious than they had imagined.

What does this story of the shepherds have for us? What would they like us to know and understand? Perhaps it is this:

Have you ever had a glorious word from the Lord, a promise that He spoke to your heart? Perhaps the promise of something you had prayed for with great urgency or a dream He birthed in your heart. Not only did you have that word, but it was confirmed in ways that could only be from Him. You believed and waited for the promise to take form.

Days slipped into weeks, weeks into years, and you began to doubt that you heard correctly. Discouragement filled your heart, and you thought the promise would never materialize. But remember...

The shepherds didn't know what had become of the baby. They didn't know that "...the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God's favor was on Him." (Luke 2: 40) While they waited, the promise was taking form. While they wondered when He would appear again, He was working at a carpenter's bench. When they grew discouraged, He stepped onto the stage and began the work His Father has sent Him to do.

While we wait, the Father is working. In His way and in His time, He will do what He has promised.

"Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise."
Hebrews 10:23


Christmas Blessings,
Linda

15 comments:

  1. Great thoughts thank you for the challenging words I haven't really thought about that before.

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  2. I have to say I have not given a thought
    as to what may have happened to the
    shepherds either. It is interesting to
    think about. Surely, their lives were
    indeed changed forever. How could one
    have such an encounter and not be changed?
    As always,Linda,your words give me much
    to think about.
    Christmas blessings to you,
    Sandy

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  3. Linda, you have no idea what hope this post holds, both for me and for a friend of mine. I'm passing it on to her. Thank you, dear friend. I love you. e.

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  4. What a great reminder you have given us of the need for perseverance and the faithfulness of God.

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  5. i agree with susan, a very good reminder.

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  6. ah, so so perfect Linda.

    May your Christmas be beyond blessed.

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  7. You give us much to ponder. Thank you :)

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  8. I love this
    very thought provoking
    We should ask the children what they think happened (o:
    they would have some great answers.

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  9. These are such good ponderings, Linda. I do. I wonder these things. And I've been in that same place of doubt also. Thank you for this reminder of his faithfulness.

    Merry Christmas, my sweet sweet friend. You are loved. So thankful for your friendship.

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  10. I love reading the age old story - such a beautiful one - and your thoughts, as always, are inspirational and so beautifully written.
    May your Christmas be filled with joy and contentment, dear Linda. Wishing you and your family the blessings of happiness and good health for the coming year. xox

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  11. Oh Linda...

    Yes, this is God at work, even when we do not see.

    And this is hope.

    "For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." -- Romans 8:24-25

    Merry Christmas to you.

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  12. Linda.

    Oh, Linda.

    You have it, you know. And it's pressing out the sides here in this post.

    This is wonderful. Considering what these guys experienced and then, yes, Bam! It's over and they go home. What did they know, what did they really understand? How did they process it?

    And did they ever hear a thing after that?

    So many layers here, for them, but also for us. So many things that happen, we experience for the moment, and then what? He's still working even when we don't see. And it's what Jennifer said, Hope.

    You do ask the questions, Linda. You do. And your heart has woven them beautifully here. I'm so glad I didn't miss this.

    Merry, merry Christmas. I'm so glad to have "met" you this year.

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  13. Oh, so so beautiful! I love this in every way. Love to you and your family this blessed week-end!

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  14. Linda,
    Thank you so much for these beautiful and encouraging words. They are words that I needed to hear today! I pray you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!
    ~Silvana

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