Each year 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. This Advent I have been drawn to spend time meditating on the experience of the shepherds.
There they were just doing their job, caring for the sheep during the watch of the night. Watching enemies, the lions and bears, it was their prime feeding time! They were working, being faithful to what God had given them to do. Even though, often times, they were unappreciated for the dirty job they did, they weren’t unappreciated to God.
Though they were shunned and looked down upon as blue collar workers, people that didn’t seemed to be skilled, respected or powerful in their day, God saw their faithfulness and their hearts and He wanted them to be a part of what He was doing here on earth. So, He appeared to them in a bright light and a host of angels letting them in on what He was doing by bringing His Son, a Savior, Emmanuel — God with us!
The shepherds then after they heard this great news were eager to see what the Lord had told them He was doing. So they left, even though it meant endangering their flocks, they left to go see this thing, to see this baby, the King of Kings, Emmanuel — God with us. And then when they saw, they began to tell what they had seen and the news spread because of them!
Luke 2:8-20 talks about how Mary pondered and treasured these things in her heart. God even used the shepherd’s testimony in coming to encourage Mary with what God was doing through her, around her and with her obedience and sacrifice.
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 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. I pondered and treasured in my heart all I have seen Him do, and been blessed to participate with Him.
Yes, this is the rhythm of life He 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.
I hope that you too, will respond to His invitation to stop, to worship, to ponder all that He has taught you, shown you and given you to do in His kingdom. I pray that you will do all that you do with Him, by His power and for His glory this Christmas and in the New Year.
Soul Shepherding’s Advent Resources
To bring us joyful appreciation of the coming of our Lord Jesus, we have available Devotionals and Prayer Cards for Advent. Each meditation includes an Advent passage of Scripture, picture, reflection, and Breath Prayer from the Bible. This is designed for personal devotions, small groups and holiday gatherings.