I’m tucked away in my bed for a few extra minutes this morning, our first day of Christmas break, with a cup of coffee on my nightstand and my Bible and laptop next to me. Quiet moments are few and far between right now, with the regular busyness of the season on us combined with learning how to juggle it all as a single parent. There are kids’ concerts and parties to attend, gifts to shop for, and the regular mess that always seems to greet me when I get home, just begging me to please clean up. I’m disappointed in myself for forgetting a deadline, trying to plan out how I’m going to get everything done for Christmas in time, and still trying to seize the moments of quiet when they come.
In this crazy “rat race” of life, dreams can go unfulfilled, passions the heart wanted so badly to pursue are put on the back burner, and life can just seem so mundane sometimes, can’t it? It’s this constant going, going, going… without the feeling of accomplishing anything some days. It’s knowing down deep that motherhood is the most important job, but feeling in the thick of it that it seems like it’s mostly a bunch of tedious jobs including cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry – over and over – and none of those things require any of my own learned skills or seemingly lost talents. It’s that feeling of insignificance. Just an ordinary mama trying to keep all the plates juggling with all the other ordinary mamas out there.
Then I read it – that amazing passage in Luke 2 where the angels came to the shepherds to announce the birth of Christ.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”
The angels came to the shepherds, and we have nothing else stating that they went to anyone else first. The shepherds, these common ordinary men who spent their days and nights watching sheep, whose jobs required little to no skill, and whose clothes probably always stunk like sheep’s wool. I recently learned that they were also looked down on for not keeping the strict religious rules and cultural norms of their day, due to the rigorous work schedule they had to keep. They were excluded, neglected, and disdained. These men were pretty close to the lowest end on the totem pole.
And yet, when God chose who would receive the news of Jesus’ birth first, He chose them. Maybe because they needed to hear most that there was hope of a better tomorrow, and the good news of a Savior’s plan to redeem the world. Or maybe, they just needed a reminder in their insignificance that they weren’t forgotten. The realization that God still shows up in the mundane and even the dark of night, when all the world seems to ignore you and be comfortably sleeping. When God shows up, glory always shows up too. Those moments the angels appeared to announce and sing were ones those men would never forget. Maybe that night brought the shepherds a little reminder to keep watching for glory moments, for one just never knows when they might happen with a sovereign Savior in control.
Glory moments… those are what I’m looking for. And I doubt I’m going to find them in an angel choir appearing to me in my own backyard. But I believe I will keep finding them if I seek them, and they will keep coming in the midst of an ordinary day. Because God is in the ordinary day, and His glory encompasses it even when I can’t always recognize it. This Christmas, I want to let the shepherds’ story keep reminding me that God delights in the ordinary, appears in the midst of the mundane, and He is El Roi, “the God who sees”. He sees the rigorous tasks that are never ending and don’t seem all that fun, and He knows that my heart still has passions it just can’t pursue right now. He sees me dedicating myself to watching my own little “sheep” and trying to keep them from straying. He sees it all.
He has not forgotten me, or you, and He may just use the mundane and the dark of night to show us Himself in the most grandiose way we’ll ever see Him.