It was one of those nights.
A navy night.
You know… the kind where the sky is a deep, deep shade of blue, and it should feel dark and full of the unknown, but the depth of the blue only makes the stars appear that much brighter. And instead of dark and fearful, the night becomes clear and free and wild and still full of the unknown. But not a threatening unknown. It is hopeful and exhilarating and heavy with expectation and promise.
Conversation covered the hills and flowed through the sky.
A small but twinkly star said to another, “It’s a beautiful night.”
The other, older and wiser, responded, “It’s a very important night.”
The small one replied, “Tell me again. I want to hear it again.”
A chorus of young, silvery star voices from all around echoed his request.
And the old stars, the patient ones, calm in their excitement, yet shining even more steadily than usual- the ones who had been waiting for years upon years for this very night, began the familiar story, each filling in a part that the others left out. The sky was filled with the ancient prophecies.
Far beneath the stars, the shepherds were watching their sheep.
The optimistic shepherd sighed contentedly and said to the tired shepherd, “It’s a nice night.”
To which the tired shepherd yawned largely and loudly and said, “I suppose so…if you don’t mind having to stay awake when the rest of the world gets to sleep.”
The optimistic shepherd just smiled and said, “I feel like something exciting is going to happen!”
The agreeable shepherd agreed. “I think so too.” He smiled contentedly.
“We could use something exciting around here,” the tired shepherd spoke the words through another yawn.
The sarcastic shepherd spoke snidely. “Something exciting? More exciting than the time that Molly here tried to eat your robe that time you fell asleep on the job?” He roughly nudged the sheep that was sniffing his own robe curiously.
“Something much more exciting than that,” the optimistic shepherd said.
“Did you notice that star?” The quiet, thoughtful, intelligent shepherd spoke up.
“Which star?” The worried shepherd asked, looking up nervously.
“That big one.” The intelligent one pointed at one star that was indeed, bigger and brighter than the others.
“Do you think it means something?” It was the worried one.
“Probably nothing.” The agreeable shepherd shrugged complacently.
The eyes of the thoughtful one flickered up to star, but he remained silent.
The night reached a peaceful point, with each shepherd completely lost in his own thoughts and suppositions.
And just as their imaginations and the beauty of the night had climaxed, things changed.
Sometimes, things change gradually.
Things have changed in a moment.
This time, it happened in a moment- after centuries and centuries of waiting and months of growing. The world quietly changed as Jesus slipped into the world, unobtrusive and tiny. And just like that, God was with flawed man, in his arms, reflected in his shining eyes- was man.
The angels announced it.
The shepherds received it.
Some believed it without question.
But hidden in the hearts of some, there was a surprising number of doubts and questions. One big underlying one.
Would it really be worth it?
To leave the hills and the sheep and the stars? For something so seemingly crazy?
I don’t know if they all went, I guess. Maybe none of them had any doubts. Maybe someone very responsibly stayed behind with the sheep.
Maybe some chose not to go. Although I’m not sure how they could have not gone, after the sky filled with angels. It seems as though it would be indicative of the importance of the event.
Do you think that some of them didn’t buy it right away? Do you think that some of them felt a bit unwilling to leave their sheep behind- their duty, their responsibility?
I hope that they all decided to go, even if they had doubts in their mind. How sad to miss out on the most precious gift of God just because you cared more about your job or were too lazy or unbelieving to journey into Bethlehem.
I wonder what I would have done.
I wonder what I am doing.
God’s gift of grace and love has been broadcasted. I know about it. I am fully aware of it, but sometimes choose not to embrace it, because I’m too busy or too tired or think that it is just too crazy and unbelievable. And maybe sometimes, he asks me to do things and I am unwilling to leave behind what I have deemed “my responsibility”. You can trust that if God has called you to go somewhere, that will be a better place for you than the one that you are in right now. It’s just that it’s hard for me to understand that, and know that, when “right here” feels familiar and comfortable and like you’re doing something good.
What would I have thought if I had been with the shepherds that night? Would I have accepted God’s gift without a doubt, or gone with a heart full of doubts, or not gone at all and dismissed it at craziness?