When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” (Luke 2:15)
The shepherds had just experienced the greatest sight and sound show in history. Suddenly, in the darkness and boredom of the Palestinian night, a great company (an army) of heavenly hosts appeared to them and the radiance of God’s glory surrounded them; an angel spoke to them (probably Gabriel) and an angelic choir sang to them! Talk about a spiritual high that could shrivel you into a clinker! Then, as suddenly as it started, it stopped and things went back to its normal darkness. The all-important question is, What did the shepherds do then?
We have prepared for Christmas and experienced the brightness of Christ’s birth. We have decorated our homes, given and received gifts, prepared special meals, and connected with family and friends (though not as many as usual). We have lit our Advent wreaths, read our Advent devotionals, and experienced the light of Jesus enter into out dark world—I know I have as I continue my journey with cancer. And now, it’s over…the angels have gone away and it is dark again. The all-important question is, What do we do now?
Look at the shepherds—they acted upon what they had experienced and pursued Christ. What a great example to us because most of our lives are not spent listening to angelic choirs or experiencing beatific visions. Most of the church year is spent in ordinary time. Most of our lives are spent in the dark fields of everyday life contending with our jobs, our health, our family’s safety, and our finances. We cannot sustain the excitement of Christmas, but we can act upon what we have experienced and continue to pursue Christ when the angels go away.
Like the shepherds, we can take those powerful and visible moments of life when God shows up in all his glory, and work them out within the framework of our brokenness and against the dark backdrop of our daily lives by continuing to seek after Christ. Stay in God’s Word on a daily basis; continue to worship him; continue to seek, ask, and knock bringing all your concerns before him; continue to speak a word for him here and there, wherever you find an opportunity to share what you have seen and heard. Don’t get discouraged or become afraid as you face an uncertain future. “Are not five little sparrows sold for two pennies (one thrown in for free)? And [yet] not one of them is forgotten before God…Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6, 7)
So when the rubber band of spiritual experience snaps back to normal, continue to pursue Christ—like the shepherds did, when the angels went away.
NOTE: My latest book, The Goodness of Affliction: Encouragement for Those Who Suffer, has just been published and can be found on Amazon Barnes and Noble, and Christian Book Distributors.