Watching For Lights In The Sky

Keep watch out your window; there might be a light show tonight.

A few days ago our Sun released a giant solar flare. While Earth is not directly in the path of this particular outburst, the Swedish have seen the Northern Lights this week, and are expecting more tonight. You’ve seen the pictures: enormous ribbons of blue and green undulating against the midnight sky. All my life I’ve yearned to see the real thing, but I live too far south of the Arctic Circle. Just once I’d love to open my curtains at night to see swirls of color blown by the solar winds.

Even more than the Aurora Borealis, I’ve yearned for a glimpse of Heaven; I yearn for the road home. To throw open my window and take to the skies, dancing along a ribbon of light and into the arms of my Savior. Instead, the black night of winter lies silent beyond my curtains. She coldly turns her back on me, pulling even the glow from the distant stars into the shadow of her cloak lest the starshine light my path.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
(Isaiah 9:2 NIV)

To us, the birth of Christ is history; to believers, this verse is as familiar as a well-worn prayer. But with all the promises of Heaven, we still live in the land of the shadow of death, and sometimes we grow weary of the dark. This Christmas I seek a fresh insight from an old story, to shine light upon my path.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks by night.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel of the Lord said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
     This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in a manger.

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:8-20 NIV)

I love the shepherds. They were just regular guys- not special, not wealthy, though probably a little smellier than most. Just as we would be, they were no doubt scared witless when the sky lit up like a nuclear explosion. But as soon as the angels went home, they hustled off to Bethlehem to see the Christ child, spread the word to everyone who would listen, and finally went back to their fields, glorifying and praising God. Their day-to-day lives had not changed; they still worked outdoors in the cold and the heat and the sun. The sheep were still stupid and stinky and constantly wandering off. Wild animals still stalked their charges, and their night sky probably never lit up again. But God spoke to them and they knew it, and the light from that one night lit up the countryside, and all who heard it were amazed.

Here in the twenty-first century, this past year has brought heartache to many. Even our tiny group of believers has walked through the darkness of job loss, poor health, financial devastation, and more. These faithful have not given up, but they are tired and the road ahead looks to wind through shadows of sorrow and fear. In this season of miracles, let us sit with the shepherds on a faraway hill. Let us rejoice with them in worshiping the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness.” Let us spread the word to all who will listen, then go back to our lives glorifying and praising God. Sure, we’ll still have heartache in this land of the shadow of death. But God spoke to us through His Word and we know it. May the light from each believer spread through the countryside, and may all who hear it be amazed.

As for me, it’s not yet time to go home, so I’ll keep my eyes on the skies. Who knows? There might be a light show tonight.

©Rachel Ophoff, 2010, Coconut Mountain Communications LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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