That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.
And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger."
I recently went for an early morning walk while it was still dark outside. The sky was full of stars, but there was one in particular that appeared to be shining brighter than all the others. As I looked at it, I began to think about the star that guided the wisemen to our newborn King. I began to wonder if the star they followed looked something like the star I was watching. Was it brighter than all the other stars? Was it visibly moving like the lights on an airplane that slowly glide across the nighttime sky? While thinking about how far they had to follow the star, I decided to look up this story in the Bible.
As I read it, I noticed something I had never seen before. The shepherds were staying in a field “nearby” (Luke 2:8). They weren’t a long ways off! They were close to the miracle that the world had been anticipating for thousands of years, but they still couldn’t see it. It took an angel to reveal it to the shepherds, and the Lord used a star to guide the wise men (Matthew 2:1-2, Luke 2:9-15).
It was in this moment that I began to realize it isn’t much different in our lives today. Some of God’s mighty handiwork is happening all around us and in us, yet manytimes we still don’t see it. What if the miracle we have been praying for or seeking has already arrived and is "nearby" (Luke 2:8)? What if it is wrapped up “in strips of cloth” instead of the shiny wrapping paper with a big bow that we may be expecting to see (Luke 2:12)?
God's ways are above our ways (Isaiah 55:9). Some of His greatest blessing are oftentimes found in some of the most unexpected places. For most of my life, I imagined a manager to be a nice baby crib filled with hay like we see in so many of the nativity scenes today. It was only after visiting Israel that I learned that a manger was nothing more than a stone feeding trough for animals. The world greatest gift, Our Savior, was found wrapped in pieces of torn up cloth and laying among the animals that He created. The world was waiting and didn’t see Him, but the wise men found Him because they were listening and looking (John 1:10).
Father, help us to see your ways and to hear your voice. Help us to always look up to you before looking out to others. Help us to lay down any and all of our preconceived notions and to willfully and joyfully open our hearts to everything you want to show us. In Jesus mighty name we pray, Amen.