December 21, 2011

Why the Shepherds?

Recently I shared the beautiful Christmas story from the book of Luke at a church women’s holiday gathering, and while practicing my recitation I found myself wondering, "Why the shepherds?" Why would God choose lowly shepherds to be the first to hear the Good News of the birth of the Savior to the world?

I know little about shepherds, except that they lived a fairly lonely life far from civilization, where their livelihood depended on the constant vigil of their flock. They may have been regarded with a lower status in society, and it’s hard to imagine their hygiene habits or if they ate regular meals.

Yet to these poor shepherds, the Lord sent His messenger angel, lighting up the night sky with the radiance of the glory of God, telling them not to be afraid! The angel spoke of the birth of the Messiah, nearby, in the city of Bethlehem.

And the shepherds left their flocks alone and hurried to the village to see the baby Jesus, wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. It was just as the angel had foretold.

But why the shepherds? From their simple lifestyle, they certainly offered a humility and humbleness that might make them more receptive to believing the truths that the angel told them. With their honest, meager living in the outskirts of town watching their flocks, surely they were not haughty or arrogant.

God chose honest men of good character to be the bearers of the news of the miracle of our Savior’s birth. Simple men who had nothing to gain by telling the story of that miraculous night, but had pure and honest reactions to the incredible events that they experienced. They could be believed.

God uses the humble, the meek and the lowly, the downtrodden and the brokenhearted. He uses us in our imperfect state. We come to Him when we are broken, lost or hurting, and through His love we are healed. Our willingness to believe that our Savior cares enough to exist in our own lives, allows God to work further in our hearts. He can use us, and He will, in the work of His kingdom here on earth.

If we are the vessels willing to be filled with His Spirit and love for His people, He will direct our steps in ways we could never imagine. It doesn’t take money or fame, just a willing heart and a complete trust in the One who leads.

God uses our imperfections to teach us His ways, and to improve our relationships with others and with Him. Talk to Him. Tell Him of your fears. Ask for His guidance. And when you are ready, say “Here I am, Lord. I am ready to serve you. Show me the path I should follow. Lead me in Your truth.” 

And then be prepared for blessings you never expected. It all begins with a humble heart and a desire to know God in ways that lead to a greater understanding of yourself and your place in this world. 

"Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you."  Psalm 25:4-5 NLT

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