Monday, December 20, 2010

The Angel Appeared to Shepherds

This past fall, my life was greatly influenced by the book, Scouting the Divine by Margaret Feinberg.
The book is about a journalistic approach to seeking the relevancy of the Bible in agricultural terms while many of us are disconnected from living a lifestyle that the Bible speaks about so often.
One example the author uses is the verse referring to a land flowing with milk and honey. She says, "My familiarity with honey extends as far as the honey bear on the shelf at the grocery store. It's probably not what God intended for me to understand."
So she goes on a journey to explore more about God by visiting with a shepherd, farmer, bee keeper and a wine maker.

The two chapters that had the biggest impact on me were the shepherding and bee keeping chapters.
So much so that Matt, the kids and I went to visit a "Fiber Fair" here in WNC about two months ago and we all fell in love with the idea of raising sheep.
It's going to happen one day people. Get ready.
Not this year. Not next year. But one day.
The yarn colors were amazing. People knitting, spinning wool, loving the craft and connectedness to the animals, each other and the earth.
I really believe that this is what God intended for us.

One of the sheep sections that really resonated with me spoke about sacrifices.
God, in the Old Testament, required the first shearing of a sheep. It is the very best, softest wool. Most like a fleece coat is now.
God doesn't want more and more sacrifices from me or you.
He wants the best. He wants what is hardest to give up.
Not more. The best.
Matt noticed that all of the shepherds at the Fiber Fair had a tremendously gentle presence.
From the oldest man to the youngest boy.
They couldn't have sudden, rough or abrasive movements.
The animals would have startled or reacted suddenly causing more problems.
My perspective of God has been that I would ALWAYS like for him to act quickly, swiftly, justly on MY behalf.
My new perspective is: He is.
It is gently, quietly, behind the scenes. In ways unknown.
My job is to simply respond to his voice.
Gates are crucial to a sheep's survival.
1) They keep a sheep in which provides protection.
2) The keep predators out which provides them protection.
The heart of the shepherd is always protection.
I tend to view gates in my life as barriers rather than my protector.
Psalm 23 says "You make me lie down in green pastures."
Why would God have to make me lie down in green pastures?
Because I am defenseless against my own will.
He is there to protect me.
This is Reid.
He needed a haircut before he was shown the next day.
His shepherd loaded him up on the cart, muzzled him down and he struggled like crazy.
He was breathing hard, snotting, slobbering.
I asked, "Is he in pain?"
His owner said, "No. As soon as he realizes I am right here and he's just getting a haircut, he'll settle down."
I can be every bit as silly as that sheep.
Chafing under God's guiding hand when all he wants to do is embrace me and give me a haircut.
He is just beautiful.

I want to remember this whenever I don't feel so lovely about myself.
Get used to this.
It's going to happen.
Never give up on being like a sheep.

God chose for an angel to appear to shepherds.
The disenchanted, disenfranchised. Children, women, the lame of society cared for sheep in Israel during the time of Jesus' birth.
Not full-grown strapping men.
Think of David and Goliath.
David was the shrimp of his family and he was tending to the sheep.
It was not a highly valued job, yet God reveals himself amongst these animals time and again.

I love it.

It doesn't hurt that my maiden name is Lamb.
Kind of makes all the messages sink a little deeper.

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