Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Need Good News?" By Kelli Zaniel

The first monster storm of the season had arrived! It clobbered the city with its frosty winter storm machine that cranked out a continuous flow of wet snow. The big oak trees that hug the side of our home were adorned with diamond-like ice crystals. The frosty trees waved their gigantic arms as if to signal that a new storm was brewing. The wintery white mix forcefully pushed itself up against all the windows and doors. The cotton-like blanket that smothered the earth now felt like my captor. With only one four-wheel drive vehicle, I felt trapped inside with a six year old, a couple of toddlers, a sixty pound puppy (with digestive issues) and a partridge in a pear tree!

As I gazed out the window watching my husband slip and slide his way towards work, I thought, “I am feeling down and trapped by this winter wonderland…Oh, how I need to some good news!” Immediately, I felt a stir in my heart. It was God’s little tug saying, “I have given you good news, not just at Christmastime but all year through!” I thought, “Yes, God that is really good news…thank you for your soft reminder that when things seem bleak, there is always good news… the gift of salvation packaged up for an entire world through the birth of your precious son, Jesus!”

On that glorious night when Jesus was born, the shepherds were hanging out in the frigid field watching their sheep aimlessly roam around in the darkness. They probably wondered, “Why couldn’t we be resting in a comfortable home eating a hearty meal, right about now?” If the shepherds had not been in the fields that night, they would have missed the greatest birth announcement this world has ever seen! If the angels had printed up baby Jesus’ birth announcement, it might have looked something like this…

What: The birth of the King of Kings
Where: The Town of David, in the local manger
When: Tonight
What to Bring: A surrendered heart

The shepherds were ordinary people performing the repetitious task of caring for their flocks by night when the Holy God, Creator of all things, decided to shake things up a bit. Their humdrum evening was transformed by a heavenly chorus singing and angels shouting, “Glory to God in the Highest,” (Luke 2:14). A celestial birth announcement fit for a King! These ordinary shepherds were personally handed an invitation straight from heaven to seek out and to greet the lamb of God (John 1:36)!

God gave His specific assignment to the shepherds. I love what they did next. They obeyed! After the angel appeared and the glory of the Lord shone around them, they didn’t look at each other saying, “We will begin our journey to Bethlehem in the morning when it’s more convenient!” No, they gathered up the sheep and left immediately. Why did God choose these unlikely shepherds to be active participants in His will? God chose them because He knew they would respond in immediate obedience. God called the shepherds that Holy night and equipped them with information that would transform the world.

The angel said, “I bring you GOOD NEWS of great joy for ALL people,” (Luke 2:10). Not just some people, but for ALL the people. The nice people, the mean people, the undeserving people and all those in between (which, lets face it, is all of us). I began to pray, “Thank you God, for the best news this world has ever known….news that invites all of us into a love relationship with the Prince of Peace!”

I don’t see an arctic prison when I look out my frosty window anymore. I see a world brimming with God’s goodness, love and promises. It encourages me to think that the shepherds were given “good news,” on a dark, cold wintery night probably a lot like this one! Had the shepherds grumbled over their circumstances and kicked through the dirt as they began their journey, they may not have ever experienced Emmanuel, “God with us.”

God decided to turn the ordinary shepherds into extraordinary people as “he guided their feet into the path of peace,” (Luke 1:79). A path that would light the way to God’s most precious gift (see John 4:10)... a friend of sinners (Matt. 11:19); captain of salvation (Heb. 2:10); Redeemer (Isaiah 43:14); and light of the world (John 8:12).

God, I pray that when you look into my soul, you see a woman who will remain humbly submitted to whatever you require. Like the shepherds, I desire to obey with no delay…as you call me, you have my complete attention and immediate response!

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