Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Shepherds Need More Nativity Space

I collect nativities. I have 13 at this point. I would have 15, but I can't find one small one and I dropped and broke the most beautiful snow globe nativity. All of my scenes have Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Well, actually I lost a Joseph at some point so I use a shepherd to stand in for him. I have a few scenes with only the Holy Family. Other scenes have three wise men and a shepherd or two.

Actually, one of my nativities is just the three kings, and I'm not sure that's technically a nativity, but I count it anyway. The three kings get a lot of attention. They even get their own holiday. Their gifts were very important, even though many people don't get their purpose. I've seen the quote about what if three wise women had come instead. They would have asked for directions, would have arrived on time; helped with the birth; cleaned the stable; made a casserole; brought practical gifts; and there would be peace on earth. Um, yeah and Jesus would have died at the hands of Herod's men and there would be no peace on earth. The wise men may have shown up late to the birth, but right on time to reveal Herod's plot to kill Jesus. The gifts they brought were fit for a king and helped that king and his family survive the journey and years in Egypt. As great as the wise men are I have to say I like the shepherds more.

Their story is brief and they didn't do anything like save the life of Jesus, but they were so very important. Their story starts in Luke 2:8 and continues until verse 20. "2. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shown around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11. For unto us is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and laying in a manger." 13. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14."Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" 15. When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." 16. And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning the child. 18. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19. But Mary treasured up these things, pondering them in her heart. 20. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them."

There are a couple of things that stuck out to me today that I have never noticed before. The first is in verse 18 when it says "all who heard it". I wonder who the all is? If it was just Mary and Joseph, which is what most of us believe, then wouldn't it have said Mary and Joseph instead of all? In verse 19 is says "but Mary treasured these things, pondering them in her heart", so it would have made sense to just say that Joseph wondered at what the shepherds told him. Plus Mary and Joseph knew already knew that the baby was the Son of God. So who else was there? I don't know, but I have a feeling Joseph found at least one woman who helped with the deliver. Woman did the delivering, and even though there was no room in the inn, it didn't mean that no one would help them. It was the town of Joseph, so he would have had some family there who may have helped them. I believe there were others in that stable with them. The nativity makers will need to add a midwife or two the scenes.

The second thing I noticed, and this one jumped out at me. It's at the end of the shepherds' story: they returned. Returned where? To the sheep. Shepherds never left their sheep unattended, but when God interrupts their night with the good news they leave the sheep and head to the city. After seeing the King and telling everyone there what they heard, they returned to their work. They went back to their sheep. They went back to work! When I looked it up in Strong's it said that "returned" meant to go back with a purpose. They went back because they had a job to do. They didn't just go back to work, but they also glorified and praised God.

It made me think about all the times I have experienced an amazing moment with God and just wanted to soak in it. I am sure the shepherds could have done that. They could have just stayed in the stable and basking in the presence of the King, but they went back to work. They returned to the field and their work, because they needed to take care of their sheep. They went about their jobs and they praised God. I know that as much as I love what I do and know that God has gifted me to do it, I let the paperwork, meetings, and difficulties have much of my attention. I rarely think about glorifying God when I'm at work. I know that doing work as unto the Lord is a way of praising Him, but I don't always consider Him when I'm working. I need to be more like a shepherd and return to my work after this break and glorify and praise Him while I take care of my little sheep.

These are mine. :)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Darkness Has To Be Exposed To the Light

As many of you know I had a very rough year last year. Even as tough as it was I know that God did so much through the struggles I faced. I know that He healed old wounds and brought freedom into areas of my heart and mind. After the year was up I felt such amazing joy and peace! I knew that the mountain top, wind sweeping through my hair experience would not last forever, but I certain wished that it would. ;)

School started again and with it comes certain challenges for all teachers, but I also faced some unique ones. Because of them I would walk into school with one prayer upon my lips, "Lord, please reveal your Truth." I knew what I wanted Him to reveal, but I also knew that there would be so much more revealed.

It wasn't long before some of those unexpected revelations started popping up. Some I kind of expected, but many were surprising to me. Some were about me, some were about people who related directly with me, and some were about people I really had no or little interaction with. You would think I would be happy to see the truth being revealed, but instead I've been more grieved than anything.

I went to God and asked Him why so much ugliness was being revealed. Why was there lies, bullying, and cruel behavior being revealed? His response makes sense, but surprised me. He said, "In order for Truth to be revealed darkness has to be brought out into the Light."

I can't say that I like the ugliness anymore now that I understand that, but I now see why it is necessary. I still pray the same prayer as I walk the halls of the building, and more darkness keeps coming out. Of course, what I want Him to reveal hasn't been, yet. I have to trust that He will continue to reveal things in my life that need to change, and I know that in His time He will revel what I have asked to be. Until then, I will continue to pray for Truth to be revealed and understand that that means I will also see the darkness that the Truth reveals.