Originally posted in 2014
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.
A New Way to Experience Restoration This Advent
We love this contemplative experience so much that we want to share it with you!
We commissioned a studio artist to visually portray each of our “Surprising Joy” Advent meditations from the Bible.
These devotional cards invite you to enter into the story of the first Christmas with one of 15 different nativity characters. The short reflections and prayers follow their journeys.
You can pick one Advent card to deeply experience Advent through that nativity character or pick a different one each day for personal devotions throughout the Advent season.
Surprising Joy Advent devotional cards can be used in small group meetings or celebrations with family and friends. You can also share these beautiful cards as a gift.
This is a fresh and inspiring devotional experience. It is our prayer that you experience the love of Jesus more deeply this Christmas as you spend time meditating on the characters of the Advent story.
Listen to this week’s SoulTalk: Breathe some air into your soul before Advent begins! Bill and Kristi share how God is coming to them as they prepare their hearts for Christ’s birth. Hear their insights and invitations from their meditations using Soul Shepherding’s Advent cards. This creative method makes space for the Lord to speak in new ways each year. How might the Christmas story be resonating with you this season?