If we want true joy in our lives, we must live in constant anticipation that God is going to show up at any moment. In the account of the angels appearing to the shepherds in Luke 2, we see God revealing himself in a powerful way. I cannot imagine the scene, but scripture invites us to do just that: to imagine; to believe beyond what we can see in this moment.
Beyond your present awareness, God is moving. He will let you in on his plan from time to time. We love those moments. We call them REVELATION moments. Following God is a great game of hide and seek in which the thrill is not just finding, but also in the chase and in being found. When we discover (aha!) his creative work afresh, it is a revelation that propels us into our next assignment from the Lord. Use your wonderful imagination to hear, see and smell the scene (shepherds, great lights, singing and loads of FEAR!)
10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Are you imagining? Pause the movie. Pause the scene. Take in all of what is happening. Take note because the revelation given by the angels frames a template of how JOY comes on the scene of our lives. This scene with shepherds, songs, angels, wilderness and an announcement of a baby as the savior frames God’s great plan and clues us into what revelation might look like in our lives. Some observations:
- They were terrified. Their fear was visceral and real. The revelation of joy came into their fear. God’s announcement of joy into your life will be shot right into your worst moments of fear. God doesn’t just want to remove your fears, but your fear is the platform for his dramatic act of joy.
- The revelation of joy comes before they saw the evidence. Today God is announcing to YOU: there will be joy! He’s done it. He’s accomplished it! We hear, we believe and walk this good news out long before we know it in full.
- The good news revelation sounded so small! The good news was a baby! How about one of these powerful heavenly creatures (angels) being the good news?! (Notice the irony!) Maybe the shepherds thought: “hey, how about YOU be the good news? You would kick some Roman…behind!” In a similar way, the good news of Jesus seems too small to be worthy of JOY! But, this is the template. Forever and for always, we will be invited into this upside down way of Joy—it never has come as a result of powerful people, but rather has come as a result of God’s power shown in the small, the weak, the lowly, the powerless and marginalized. In you and ME!
- The good news was a continuation of God’s work in history. The savior was to be born in Bethlehem: the city of David. Immediately the shepherds would’ve recognized their hopes for the future were built upon by the work of God in the past. While God is always doing a new thing, the new thing is built on the hope of the past. We see it in the past and we anticipate a great future.
The savior had been born. He was small, but he would get big. Not physically, but in influence. He would become so big that even death wouldn’t be able to hold him down. He would emerge from death alive forever more. As Chris mentioned on Sunday, the shepherds didn’t get a full and complete revelation—more like a loud, vast summary of glorious news. The SAVIOR had been born.
Now, let’s live in anticipation this week: we all have fears—but God is working. We may not yet see the evidence, but God is showing up and giving you hope—right now! His way of working may seem so small and insignificant, but we still respond with small faith (like a mustard seed) and then expect that God will build on what has been up to all along. Not one nanosecond of history is lost on God—he is redeeming every bit of it.
And there JOY is found.
Conclude your devotion by asking God to give you a hint of his goodness. His response might be a glorious sky full of bellowing angels, or it may be a birdsong in a yard tree. In either case, take it and treasure it and allow it to build great JOY in you. He is at work!