A Divine Assumption

Christmas Eve has finally arrived again, and in spite of the frigid weather blanketing most of the country, the usual Christmas busyness prevails for most of us. In recognition of that, today’s offering will be appropriately brief. But this is also a good time to explore some of the spiritual truths associated with Jesus’ coming – and we don’t want to miss it. For most of us, these are special days. A sense of joyful expectation is generated by the mystery of hidden treasures and magnified by the hope of unanticipated discoveries. Colorful, carefully wrapped packages convey love for one another prior to gathering around tables to feast on more than food. 

The Lure of Mysteries ~
Those qualities of mystery and joyous anticipation are part of what makes this time of year so special for most of us, but they are not unique to our day. God also wove them into the original “Christmas story.” The episode with the shepherds serves as an interesting example. We know enough about them toChristmas.1 arrest our attention and arouse our curiosity, but God left enough questions unanswered to add an intriguing element of mystery and the lure of unanticipated discovery. By their very nature, mysteries generate questions, and Luke’s account of the drama that took place in some unidentified field near Bethlehem certainly does that.

Of course, everything included in the story was peripheral to one, glorious central event. The grandest mystery of the ages was that the God of the Universe compressed all that represented Him, and all that love was ever intended to be, and placed it into one tiny human body. Then He wrapped it in a blanket, and put it in a place where it was not likely to be noticed. After that, He decided to send some angels to tell a group of unknown, unnamed, insignificant shepherds what He had done. We know almost nothing about those guys, and as usual, the seeds of mystery germinate and produce all kinds of random questions like these: 

      • Who were these men?
      • How many were there?
      • What were their names?
      • Why were these particular shepherds chosen?
      • Since they apparently lived nearby, were any of them related to Joseph’s family?
      • What time of night was it?
      • Did the sheep go into a full blown panic-driven stampede when the angels showed up?
      • Did all the shepherds go into town looking for Jesus, or did some stay back to watch the sheep?
      • They didn’t have an address or GPS, or a star to follow, so how did they find Him?
      • How did Mary and Joseph react to them? What did they say to one another?
      • Did any or all of them become followers of Jesus later on? 

A Different Quest ~
But there’s a different question that God might want all of us to ask. That is, what could this story about Christmas.2the shepherds possibly have to do with me? We’ve never been thrown into an impromptu meeting with angels. Most of us have never owned a sheep or spent a night outside guarding anyone else’s, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t personal applications lurking in this story. But to find them, we need to change the direction of our attention, and we need a set of questions that doesn’t focus on the shepherds.

No Impressive Credentials ~
First we should note that these shepherds didn’t suddenly become all that special because of their names, or their individual background, or any abilities they might have possessed. They were special simply because they were made aware of a divine event that didn’t really seem to involve them at all. Yet in spite of the lack of any religious credentials, direct connection, or personal grasp of what the Living God was doing, the announcement delivered to them by the angel used the personal term “you” four times. He said:

I bring you good tidings of great joy…
Unto you is born a Savior
And this will be the sign to you
You will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. (Luke 2:8-14 NKJV)

The shepherds weren’t instructed to do anything, go anywhere, or tell anybody what they had seen, but the angel’s final use of the term, you, did imply that an active personal response was expected. A divineChristmas.3 assumption was clear when the angel said, “You will find … ,” and it was clear that he expected more than just a group discussion about the potential theological implications of what had happened. They simply acted on what they had seen and heard . . . Maybe we should, too.

An Alternate Focus ~
We haven’t had angelic visitations accompanied by Shekinah Glory, but we have been given divine revelations of Jesus’ coming and of His redemptive sacrifice on our behalf. The world doesn’t need to read our internet profile or hear our backstory. All they need to know about us is what we found when we sought Him. So here are some alternative questions that might be helpful:

    • Instead of asking “Why did God choose me?”, we should ask, “What will I do about the fact that He did?”
    • Instead of asking, “Why didn’t God reveal more?”, how about asking, “What can I do with the incredible Truth He’s revealed?”
    • Instead of asking, “What is my role in the grand scheme of things?”, how about asking, “How many ways can I demonstrate to others what being found by Him means to me?” 

In many ways, we’ve got a leg up on the shepherds. We don’t have to spend the night outside surrounded by a bunch of sheep. We don’t have to be scared out of our minds by angels popping in surrounded by Heavenly lights, and we don’t have to go searching in the dark to find some folks we never met. Sure, He was not far away from them, but He’s much closer to us, and the greatest good news is that we don’t have to go searching for Him. He’s already been searching for us.

It’s pretty awesome and sweet to think that God made Himself small enough to be picked up and held in the shepherds’ arms. But it’s infinitely more awesome and sweeter still to know He’s big enough to want to pick us up and hold us in His.

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“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below.  Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .

    • “The world doesn’t need to read our internet profile or hear our backstory. All they need to know about us is what we found when we sought Him.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet) 
    • “Instead of asking “Why did God choose me?”, ask, “What will I do about the fact that He did?”  Instead of asking, “What’s my role in the grand scheme of things?”, ask, “How can I demonstrate to others what being found by Him means to me?” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
    • “Jesus wasn’t far away from the shepherds, but He’s much closer to us, and the greatest good news is that we don’t have to go searching for Him. He’s already been searching for us.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)  
    • “It’s pretty awesome and sweet to think that God made Himself small enough to be picked up and held in the shepherds’ arms. But it’s infinitely more awesome and sweeter still to know He’s big enough to want to pick us up and hold us in His.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)  

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About Ron Gallagher, Ed.S

Author, Speaker, Bible Teacher, Humorist, Satirist, Blogger ... "Right Side Up Thinking ~ In an Upside Down World" For Ron's full bio, go to GallaghersPen.com/about/
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6 Responses to A Divine Assumption

  1. JD Wininger says:

    Oh, how I ache to write a story that answers the many questions you raised my friend. But then again, the wonder of the season is that while those and many other questions will remain unanswered until God reveals them to us, knowing what He has chosen to share with us is enough. In fact, I’m fairly convinced that should God tarry longer in His return, I will still not live long enough to uncover all that He has revealed to us, both about Himself and about us. The wonder of imago dei (the image of God) is that its fullness is yet to be understood or displayed. I think sometimes, it, like Him, is infinite. I so love the questions you asked that we can know the answers to sir. They are questions that each of us should somberly consider. As you and your Ms. Diane nurse each other through another bout with Covid. As you heal up from a broken wing, the result of a fall, and as you survive this frigid freight train of bad weather coming your way, know that you are lifted upon the shoulders of some friends here in NE Texas who could not love you anymore than we already do. We are holding you and your family up in prayer daily and are at your beckon call should there be anything we can do to help. God’s blessings and may you have a very Merry CHRISTmas sweet friends.


    • What a Christmas blessing it was to read your response, J.D. It adds even more joy to the atmosphere in our house this Christmas. As you know, we couldn’t be with our family or friends, and we couldn’t attend any of our church’s special Christmas programs (of he which there were 6) We did get to see the program on TV, but as you know well, it just ain’t the same. Even though digital fellowship lags behind the real thing, we were so blessed to have you and Diane join our Christmas celebrations today. We have felt the presence of your prayers and friendship so many times since we met, that it felt natural to have your encouraging presence hanging around with us today. I’d offer you a digital gingerbread man that Diane has in the kitchen, but that ain’t the same either :). In spite of the disappointing turn of events this year, we are overwhelmed at how God has blessed and provided for us and His healing grace is becoming more obvious every day. As always, we send back our love and our prayers that He will pour into your lives every gift He died to secure. Merry Christmas, J.D, and may your New Year be another steadfast testimony of the power of His presence in your life and work.


  2. Beautiful reflection, Ron; you have certainly given us Christmas food for thought.
    Thank you!
    Merry Christmas!


    • God bless you, Martha. You have certainly added blessings and richness to our lives throughout the year, and we rejoice with you as we celebrate the One who not only born as one of us, but who loved us enough to take the sins of the worst of us on Himself so that we might be born into His family forever. Merry Christmas to you and your family, and may His peace reign in your home in the year to come.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Julie Z says:

    Thank you for the beautiful imagery your words present here on the Christmas Eve. I will carry the visions with me of the shepherds, the sheep, the baby in the manger, and of God holding me in His arms as I await the coming celebration of the birth of our Lord.


    • What a sweet and uplifting blessing on this frigid Christmas Eve morning, Julie! Your encouragement is especially welcome in light of the fact that all our holiday plans got trashed. It was bad enough that Diane had Covid, but since we tend to share everything, it isn’t surprising that the Covid Grinch dragged me into his nefarious anti-Christmas scheme, too. So our house is now the official Coved Couple Confinement ward for Christmas. The good news is that at least we enjoy each other’s company.


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