Response to Experiences; December 25, 2019

Luke 2:20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

When I have all 20 verses essentially memorized, it can be hard to know exactly what the Lord is saying to me through this passage right now. However, this verse is a matter of the shepherds response to what they had experienced, and that is a vital question for every individual in every situation. Every person experiences highs and lows, things that please them and things that don’t. It’s not just for those who are bipolar! The important thing isn’t so much what happens, as how we respond to it. In verse 15 we have the record of how these shepherds responded to the angelic visitation, and here we have the record of their response to the total experience. Simply put, they allowed what they experienced to prompt them to action, changing them in good ways. After the angels left them they didn’t lie around going, “Man, what a trip! That was freaky!” Rather, they acted on the information they had been given, and sought out the newly-born Savior. Then, as it records here, after telling Mary and Joseph about the angels, they went back to resume their responsibilities with the sheep, but not as they had been before. They went from being terrified when the first angel showed up (verse 9) to glorifying and praising God, unable to hold back the joy that welled up from within them. They had just had proof that A, God was real, and B, He cared about them enough to send a Savior, even if that Savior was a helpless little baby, lying in a manger of all places. God deals with each of us in different ways, but the message is always the same: He loves us and He wants us to live as His children, in all holiness and joy. At the point of this story, nobody imagined just what this little baby was going to do to be our Savior. Crucifixion wasn’t on anyone’s mind! We never know all the ramifications of what we experience, but the better we know God, the more confident and assured we are that He is going to work everything together for good, and we rejoice. (Romans 8:28) When we fail to rejoice, it proves that we have more to learn about God and that we need to grow more in our faith.

This of course applies to me as much as it does to anyone else. I have had 71 years of experiences so far, and continue to experience life moment by moment every day. In that I am no different from anyone else. My desire, and what God wants for me, is to respond to everything I experience with gratitude and praise, recognizing that I am held in His hands of love. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Right now I have just gotten over a major “hump” in the year’s calendar, but that doesn’t mean at all that things stop happening. Life will continue to go on, moment by moment, so my focus is to be on making the use that God intends of each of those moments, giving Him glory by saying what He is saying and doing what He is doing. I don’t know what lies ahead, but I know Him, and that should enable me to rest, relax, and rejoice in Him, just as He has told me to do.

Father, thank You for all that You allowed me to experience yesterday. Thank You that I could go to the funeral as planned and still take care of other things. Thank You especially for Your grace and blessings in the Christmas Eve service last night. Some people we expected weren’t here, but others we didn’t expect were, and You blessed us all. I pray especially that those who were here for the first time would be unable to forget what they experienced of Your presence and be hungry for more. I pray that everything about today would be as You desire, that we wouldn’t miss any of what You are doing by demanding something else. May we be Your children, Your agents indeed, every moment of today, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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