Not so Normal Night

Ordinary People — Extraordinary Plan

The Christmas message is about a bunch of ordinary people involved in an extraordinary story. Sometimes I think it is easy for us to read the story of Jesus’ birth and imagine that the other characters in the story were set apart and different in some way, or we just don’t think about them at all. Well, I’d like to focus in for a moment on the shepherds.

If you were arranging the arrival of a king, would you be sure and notify a bunch of dusty, ordinary guys who care for stinky sheep? And not just send them a text message, but send a choir of angels? Well, God thought it was a great idea. One of my favorite parts of the Christmas story is thinking about what that night was like for the shepherds. “That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep” (Luke 2:8, NLT). Ok, stop for a minute and set the picture in your mind. Just a routine shift, nothing new to see here, just a bunch of dirty, lazy sheep, watching out for predators, counting stars, trying not to freeze…” Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. I bring you good news of great joy for everyone. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!” ~pause~ If you aren’t very familiar with the Bible, just know that these men would have heard prophecies of the Messiah coming since they were little boys. That history in conjunction with the angel and radiance of God all over the place had to be quite a spectacle!  ~play~ Then, after giving instructions on how to find the Messiah–Baby Jesus, “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of Heaven—praising God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors” (Luke 2:13-14). Imagine for a moment the glorious sound and sight that those shepherds witnessed! The shepherds decide to take the advice of the host of angels (good plan) and go to find baby Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem, sharing their beautiful experience all along the way. These men were shepherds, ordinary people doing ordinary things who were suddenly and gloriously interrupted by a host of angels…way cool!

So, what does this have to do with living a healthy lifestyle? Well, it is important to remember that God shows up in the lives of ordinary people. And He didn’t just whisper to the shepherds, he organized a very unique invitation for them to celebrate in the birth of Jesus Christ, the arrival of the Messiah. I imagine the shepherds felt pretty special after all that went down. A new identity perhaps? A new God-sent-angels-to-the-field-to-talk-to-me kind of identity. Enjoying a healthy lifestyle includes a solid understanding of identity and value. So often we get caught up in trying to solidify our identity and value by trying to please others, comparing ourselves to others, or striving to meet unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately, the holiday season is prime time for these kinds of pressures to escalate. Remember, your value comes from being a creation of the most-high God and has nothing to do with the number on the scale, the color of your hair, the number of children you have, how fit you are, the job you have, or if you have been acknowledged by Forbes magazine!

Maybe you haven’t been visited by a host of angels, but God did send Jesus for you. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it” (John 3:16-17, NLT). And we get to experience reminders of God’s love all around us every day. We don’t live in a bland world, we live in a world full of sights, sounds, smells, and touches, and we have the capacity to enjoy it all. Seeing familiar smiles to greet you, birds flying in formation, 15 shades of pink in the sunset…yep, that’s for you. Hearing orchestra concerts, ocean waves crashing, babies cooing…all for you to enjoy. Smelling fresh baked cookies, Grandma’s perfume, wood burning fire, pine needles…you guessed it, all for you. Experiencing hugs, warm coffee soothing your throat, puppy tongues licking your cheeks, a hot bath or steamy shower…all for your pleasure because you are loved.

Banish thoughts of creating the “perfect” Christmas for your kids and just savor the season, even if it is filled with sniffly noses and crazy relatives. Relieve the pressure and take in the brisk air, the twinkly lights, and the festive music and be grateful for the ability to do so. Rest in the reality that you are perfectly created by God and he loves you.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Night Songs

Surviving life with grace and hope

u.b.healthy

Create the life you want