The build up to Christmas is always a great time of anticipation and excitement. All through Advent, we eagerly await the arrival of Jesus with hopeful anticipation. We buy gifts for our loved ones and hope to share in their excitement as they open their presents on Christmas morning. Then we sit around all day and enjoy each other’s company. Phone calls are made to out of town relatives and loved ones to wish them a Merry Christmas and tell them we miss them. But what happens after Christmas Day? What do we do the next day, and the next day after that? Some people have to get back to work, while others take a longer time off, but eventually we all have to get back to our daily work.
It started me thinking about the shepherds that witnessed the birth of Jesus in the manger. Did you ever wonder what the Shepherds did AFTER they left the manger and headed back into the fields to work? We have all heard the story about how shepherds were met by a great company of angels proclaiming God to be the Savior, and how they hurried off to Bethlehem to find Mary and Joseph in a manger with baby Jesus. But what happened after they left the manger and had to get back to work? I think we can all relate to the shepherds excitement while they traveled to the manger, and especially while they were at the manger, but then what?
There were two paths that led away from the manger that evening. One path goes directly back to the shepherd’s fields and to their lives as they were being lived before experiencing Jesus. These shepherds returned to their lives as if nothing changed whatsoever. They saw, but didn’t believe. The second path leads in a much different direction. The second path leads to a new life and a new happiness. The shepherds that chose this path will have lives that will be dramatically blessed beyond their understanding. They obviously still have to get back to their duties as shepherds, but they do not have to live the same type of life they had been living previously. These shepherds made some major changes in the way they approached life in general.
I cannot imagine their lives ever being the same after they experienced Jesus and the glory of heavenly hosts. It just wouldn’t make sense to have the life changing experience they had with Jesus, then to walk away and say to one another, “well, that was cool…now what?” They had just met the Savior of the world, and a huge company of angels appeared to them and proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God, so how could they ever be the same after this?
As hard as it is to believe, there were probably some shepherds that walked away from the manger struggling with their belief. They refused to change their way of thinking. They probably went right back to their job of being a shepherd and pushed aside the incredible experience they just had. They refused to allow the love of God to enter their hearts because they were so concerned with getting back to their duties as a shepherd.
As you get back to your duties of work and daily living, what path are you going to choose for yourself? Are you going to choose to be the same person you were before Christmas? You have the opportunity to make some changes in the way you live by reflecting on the wonderful experience of Christmas and of the birth of Jesus. Make it a point to hold onto the joy of Christmas throughout your day, your week, your month, and throughout the whole year until it’s time to prepare for the arrival of Jesus once again with eager anticipation. The choice is yours…which path will you take?