During the Advent season, I pick a character from the nativity scene to spend some time reading about in Scripture while praying and listening to the Lord. Our “Surprising Joy” Advent Cards make this easy and delightful. This Advent I have been drawn to spend time meditating on the shepherd’s experience with the birth of Jesus.
There they were just doing their job, caring for the sheep out in the hills late at night. Hungry lions, bears, and coyotes were on the prowl! So the shepherds were watching over the sheep, being faithful to what God had given them to do. Even though they were often unappreciated by people, they worked hard at their dirty, dangerous job under the smile of God.
Though they were shunned and looked down upon as poor and simple field workers, God saw their faithful hearts and He wanted them to be a big part of bringing the Good News to all people. So, He appeared to them in a bright light and a host of angels letting them in on the birth of His Son, our Savior — Emmanuel, God with us!
After they heard this great news they were eager to see what the Lord had told them. So they ran to see the special baby. They were the first guests to celebrate the new King of Kings. Then they told everyone about Jesus!
The shepherds helped Mary to ponder and treasure Jesus in her heart (Luke 2:8-20). After going through labor in a stable and all that she had suffered, God used the poor shepherds to bless her.
As I have reflected on this, I have often related to the shepherds and felt like, “Who am I that I get to see God’s action and participate with Him and see Him use me?” and yet I do.
Lately, I have been over-working. It is so exciting to be a part of what God is doing! I want to be a part of it. I want to be faithful. But, I have been doing it to the point that I have been neglecting to care for my soul. I teach against this! I know the warning signs and I began to feel them.
Last night Bill and I sat down to schedule a few ministry events for the New Year and my heart fatigued, I didn’t feel able to make commitments. Upon reflection, I realized I wasn’t spending enough time, like Mary, pondering in my heart God’s goodness and worshiping Him as the shepherds worshiped with the angels.
Thankfully, God in His mercy provided for me to take a sabbath day. I took the day off work and lingered to start the day, resting in bed under the covers, just allowing myself to worship the Lord. Like the shepherds and Mary, I pondered and treasured in my heart all I have seen God do. What a blessing it is to draw closer to Christ Jesus and participate in His work!
This is the rhythm of life God calls me to! It’s a rhythm that includes sabbath days of rest. They are soul restorative. I feel renewed and grateful, once again. I’m enthralled with Jesus and not distracted by the work and the needs of the flock.
During this stressful Advent, I hope that you too will respond to the Holy Spirit’s invitation to stop, to worship, to ponder the wonders of Jesus. These are ways we can participate in God’s works in the Kingdom of the Heavens. I pray that you will do all that you do with the Lord, by His power and for His glory this Christmas.
Originally posted on the Soul Sheperding blog in 2014
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