In her book, A Beautiful Mess, Danielle Strickland wrote: “God doesn’t normally shed light that leads us to shallow places.” She then offered an example. The shepherds around Bethlehem were going about their daily routine. Caring for the flocks on the hillsides outside the town was business as usual. Strickland: “They were living small lives, wrapped up in the little drama of their existence. Angels, accompanied by a symphony of light and revelation, invited them into something eternally more grand and wonderful than their puny lives.”
It is interesting to examine their reaction to the heavenly interruption. Shock and fear are understandable. They could have been overwhelmed into inaction, shrinking from the moment in terror. They chose something else … after they gathered their wits. Strickland: “They ran to take the invitation and, in running, plunged into a dimension that was perpetually bigger than anything they could have dreamed of. They ran into the depth of the re-creation of the world.”
How can you retreat into shallow places after God speaks? The birth of Christ changed history. The Eternal Word became flesh and lived among us. The shepherds were the first to hear the good news that would bring joy to the world. They refused to remain in shallow places.
I don’t think God is through speaking … I don’t think He is through shedding light. Desperately, the world needs light and those of us entrusted with His light cannot retreat to shallow places.
The Nativity stories contrast two very different reactions. First, we have the shepherds who leave their flocks to race to Bethlehem to see what God had done. Second, we have the scribes of Herod who were ordered to search the scrolls for scriptural evidence of a new-born king, find the truth, and report. Then they promptly ignored it, perhaps because of fear or uncertainty or lack of faith.
Perhaps today we are being confronted by the shed light of God as we seek to discern His will for our church. No shallow places for us. We would rather be shepherds than scribes!