After the Shepherds Returned

By Lauren M.

A lot of people, whether Christians or not, have experienced special times when they feel incredibly in touch with God and with themselves. During such moments, some persons feel as if anything is possible, as if everything is so clear. Other people even feel such passion for God that it seems as if they are willing to do anything for Him at that instant. But sometimes, a person’s elevated feelings and lofty resolves may fade away when the prayer retreat, weekly sermon, special vacation or holiday season is over. Can a spiritual encounter really have a lasting impact after we return to our normal routines – when it’s so easy to become preoccupied with trying to solve big and small problems, assuming our usual responsibilities and even enjoying our regular recreational activities?

When the shepherds watched the heavenly choir give them a special performance and when they saw the Messiah with their very own eyes, they must have felt such awe and wonder. But what happened when it was time for them to return to the fields and tend to their smelly, stubborn sheep once more? What if there were no longer any new supernatural happenings they could look forward to that could add zest to their humdrum lives? One might think that the following days and perhaps the rest of their lives would feel anti-climactic to them. After all, the story could have gone this way:

“And the shepherds returned… bored and disappointed, wishing that they could keep hanging out with the Messiah, with angels from heaven or even with wise men from foreign lands – instead of taking care of those stinky sheep day after day!”

Image by Martin Pettitt

Surprisingly, it didn’t. According to the Bible, this was what really happened:

“And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” (Luke 2:20, KJV)

What was the shepherds’ secret? Why did they keep glorifying and praising God even after the heavenly concert and Jesus’ “birthday party” were both over? Perhaps it was because they continued to keep their minds and hearts on what they had seen and heard instead of their seemingly ordinary present circumstances. Or better yet, maybe they learned to view their seemingly difficult circumstances in a new light because of their special experience. Perhaps they started to see their lives as shepherds with new eyes after they have encountered the Good Shepherd even for a short while.

I don’t have an official New Year’s Resolution (I’ll probably just break it before January ends if I did!) but I do have several New Year’s wishes. And here is one of them: that I may learn the secret of the shepherds. I wish you all a wonderful 2012:)

 

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