“The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them” (Luke 2:20, NLT).
The angel brought the shepherds “good news that will bring great joy” (verse 10). And where did the angel direct the shepherds? To a baby.
Surely that came as a surprise to the shepherds. A baby Savior? Was there a moment of concern as they breathed heavily in the night air after their dash from the fields? Did they gaze on the child and realize that, while this may be the promised Savior (hadn’t the angel just said so?), salvation was not arriving quite as they expected? And the timetable would be quite different than what they (and indeed all of their countrymen) desired? In any case, the text tells us that the shepherds “told everyone what had happened” and “went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God” (vv. 17, 20).
What about us today? We can look in our rearview mirror of history and know what the shepherds did not know that first Christmas — how that salvation played out three decades later. Like the shepherds, we have our share of promises that we are counting on God to fulfill. Like the shepherds, we look into our Savior’s face and know that God will do as He promises. But also, like them, we do not know how or when those promises will be fulfilled. So we go back to our fields and our sheep in our Roman-occupied territory . . . and we wait.
Isn’t that the hardest part? Doesn’t the waiting rob our joy? We focus on the way we want life to happen and the timing we want things to happen. God decides instead to surprise us, to answer in ways we could not predict with timing that only He understands as perfect.
In the meantime, we should take a lesson from the shepherds: spread the word, glorifying and praising God—every day, every moment, with every ounce of our being—even as we wait in wonder to see what God will do.
Prayer: Lord, remind me every day that I can count on Your promises and Your perfect timing. I want to spend every waking moment glorifying and praising you even as I await Your answers.