The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Today's Reading: Luke 2:20
December 23, 2021
Growing up, my mother had a Precious Moments nativity set handed down from her grandmother. It was my favorite one in our house (didn’t every house have at least 5?) because it didn’t just have one angel… it had THREE! If you asked young Scott what his favorite story was in the whole Bible, his answer would have been “the heavenly host one.” I was, and still am, completely in awe at the thought of the sky filling with a choir of angels. It was because of this that I pleaded to be a shepherd in the play at Asbury United Methodist Church every year…even though they had the worst costumes. I was so excited every time I had to look off stage and pretend to see the heavenly host! It was Oscar-worthy.
It is easy to remember the heavenly host. It is even easy to remember what happened next: the shepherds ran to see Jesus, of course! And what would this passage be without the gentle and lowly moment where Mary pondered their testimony of God’ faithfulness in her heart! (I think I had memorized this verse as a kid before I even knew what ponder meant). But that wasn’t the end…there’s always more.
The story of this night ended in a joyful return. “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:20 NIV
). At the end of the night, the shepherds were right back where they began. After seeing the Prince of Peace, they returned to their humble post.
Oh, how often I wish away the hardships of my current season. Oh, how frequently my heart becomes apathetic or angry instead of obediently content. But the shepherds returned that night, glorifying and praising God for what they had seen. With eyes opened wide to God at work, they seemed pretty content. I can almost imagine them agreeing with the future words of Paul: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have now learned the secret… that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13 NIV
A friend told me recently that as we learn to continually trace God’s hand in our lives, we will grow to adore His heart. I think that’s what the shepherds experienced that night. They heard God speak, they saw God move, and they tasted His glory. His hand was evident to them. And what was the result? They returned to their lambs while glorifying and praising the Lamb! As we continue to celebrate Emmanuel over these next couple of days, could we “trace His hand?” Whether in a journal, in conversation with a spouse, over coffee with a friend, or around the dinner table with family, could we remember actively how we have seen God move, and then be led to praise and adore Jesus together? If we trace His hand, we will adore His heart.