First Responders are an amazing group of people. They are those who run toward the danger instead of away from the danger. They are the ones risking their lives to save or help total strangers. They are the ones problem-solving as they run into unknown situations. They are the ones willing to go in and survey the situation, to help start the rescue. This group is highly trained certainly but most of all, they are first, willing.
And so were the shepherds. Think about this group of individuals, this occupation. Luke 2 states that they were, "living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night". This had to be a most difficult existence as they were away from family, uncomfortable, lonely and each night was oh, so dark. We all know danger comes at night as does fear.
Then, one night after years and years of predictable darkness, there came a bright light in the sky like never before seen. They must have been absolutely terrified. One angel shining in God's glory who also spoke words that they understood. Then many, many angels with many voices also praising God. And then...darkness. Silence.
These men had to be in shock, stunned, amazed, and scared to death. They were just humans like you and me, going to work and certainly not anticipating this type of night after so many others of darkness and void.
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest,And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste...Luke 2:9-16a
Think of how dark it must have become after the light from the angels dissipated. The darkness had to feel ten-times darker after experiencing such a light. But unlike me, who would have run to the nearest house and hidden or run to my family where I knew I would be safe, these men ran (with haste) to Bethlehem. What drove them to go? They literally walked-off their jobs. Were they too astounded NOT to go? It takes willingness and courage to go into a situation where you don't know the outcome. It takes an ability to recognize our lack of knowledge and our need to know. It's a 'first responder' type of mentality.
One day, a few years back, we were in a dark, dark place when our young son, Nick, became willing and filled with courage to go toward a new beginning. He made the choice to seek recovery. As we drove to Nashville, Nick was on the phone with several different men. Men of integrity who had tried to intervene and help him. He held nothing back and told his story of brokenness and over and over his tears would flow. His spirit was broken but he was willing to find healing. Nick was admitted and with a quick goodbye, the door closed and he was gone. We would not see him or speak to him for a while. Phone privileges and visitation would come in time. We could write letters, as could he, which to my knowledge he had never done in his life. We stood there alone with each other and were completely numb. I’m certain we were in shock. I absolutely have no memory of our four-hour drive home. The dark, dark night can freeze us in place but first responders, shepherds, and our brave children often lead us to willingness, to courage, to seek.
We know from the Luke story, that the shepherds were willing to go. They arrived and they saw Him. They were willing to hear and learn and believe. Then, they returned to their normal world and they told people what had happened to them and "what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them". What a story! What a real-life challenge!
Run with haste, run and see with your own eyes. Let's choose to go. Let's choose to run even though we may be afraid. Let's choose to see how God will meet us and then turn us around to go tell others. Isn't that the story of Christmas and the shepherds?
One night, one angel appeared, one message, one decision, one risk to go, one sighting, one telling, one amazed, one belief. One. One. One.