Divine Interruption

Luke 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.

Those shepherds were doing what they were supposed to do. They were ordinary men doing a menial job – low skill, low status among their people. Their whole job was to keep those sheep fed and safe from predators until they could be raised and sold, maybe even to the Temple for sacrifice. Their plan was to take turns dozing throughout the night. Their perspective was that they were the least of the least and didn’t matter much. Their expectation was that nothing would change. They weren’t watching for God, but God came anyway. Their night was interrupted by God and a group of angels.

For those shepherds that night, everything changed. They got a personal invitation from heaven to go to Bethlehem and see and worship the son of God himself. The shepherds abandoned their field and “hurried” to “see”. They didn’t just work God in when it was convenient or when they were well rested. God’s invitation to come took priority over everything else, and they got to see God up close, on the night he came to earth as a baby. The angels didn’t magically transport the shepherds back to town; they just gave them the information so they could chose to go for themselves, and that choice changed everything.

Wonder if they immediately found the right place, or if they had to search a bit. Wonder if they actually asked someone if they’d seen a baby in a manger? Whatever their journey from the field to the stable looked like, God amazed them when they got there, and their response was worship. Don’t you find it interesting that the people God chose to come and celebrate with Mary and Joseph were so common? Why not temple officials or priests? I wonder if any of those people got a holy nudge to take a walk through the stable district that night….and ignored it.

The shepherds saw a God who came to them, who sought them out, to be included in his story. These men were overlooked by the world, but they were chosen by God. The ones who took care of the sheep were the first chosen to see the child who would become the Lamb of God. Once they had seen the Christ child, they undoubtedly returned to the same life they had left the night before. They worshipped because they saw God as he was, they understood that God had answered the prayers of his people and had come to deliver them once again, this time in human form.

God has a long history of interrupting the lives of his people. Those interruptions may involve new locations, new family members, or new vocations. He may change your plan or your perspective or your expectations. He may convict your heart. His will may look like a pink slip or a new job offer. It may be the “surprise” baby when you thought your family was already complete, or it may be that your child chooses a spouse and you receive a new adult child. He may take someone or something from you so you can experience him in a new season of your life. He may add responsibility, or he may change your circumstances. Sometimes God’s interruptions change your life activity; sometimes his interruptions change your perspective as you continue to do the same life activity. Interruptions may be a happy surprise, or they can be inconvenient or unwelcome. They may cause celebration of what is new or grief over what is no more. They can give you rest or a new purpose or passion. But they always change things.

At this point in your life, what are you doing? What are you plans right now? What perspective do you have on your present/future? What are your expectations for this day? For next year? Is God a part of your plans and expectations, or is he going to have to seriously interrupt you to get your attention? Where is God calling you to come and see him? Will you trust God’s nudging enough to pursue it to the place where you can see his glory? To see him in action? Will you allow him to show you what he wants you to see, or will you ignore him and just protect your sheep, your job, your agenda?

May this Christmas find you listening for the angel’s invitation and seeking the face of your Savior. May you be reminded that you are absolutely loved by God. And may you respond to whatever interruptions God puts in your path with the obedience that will lead you to awe and worship.

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