Did you experience overwhelming joy, delight and glory when you first believed? Did you tell all and sundry the wonders of God and the message of salvation? Were you one that for a time was seated on the top of the mount of transfiguration? Did you tell the world of all the joy and thankfulness that was in your heart..?
It is indeed glorious to be overwhelmed when in the midst of a host of angels.. but what of the time when you have been adrift in a sea of discontent and discomfort? What of those years, the locusts have eaten, and the pain that has ensued..? Has that first flush of fervour faded as you trudged the walk of life’s weary wilderness? Do you still have that vision with the passing of time and the increase of age? This is not only a present-day syndrome..but reflective of the history of mankind.
May this not have been the experience of shepherds following that astonishing night, as the simple shepherds also returned to face the tedious tasks of their daily duty? In Luke 8:20 we read that: "The shepherds returned….."
What a night for those humble men.. those faithful shepherds of the sheep. And oh! what precious sheep they were caring for, and feeding and protecting. Lambs, chosen to soon be offered in the temple as a sacrifice to the Lord Jehovah. Sheep... the innocent sacrifices that down through the centuries exemplified God’s Son. And these were the shepherds entrusted with the care of this small, precious flock. These were the ones, called upon to "feed my sheep" and "feed my lambs."
It seems these men, like David the shepherd king, were men after God’s own heart, as night after night and maybe year after year – these ones were unseen but faithful – unseen by multitudes, who daily flocked to the temple to seek YHWH’s forgiveness. Seen by the One who daily covered those sins – until the fullness of time came in.
They had indeed been overwhelmed by their visitation of that heavenly throng. And they were indeed en-wrapped by the enormity of the revelation they had received. With no second thought, they left all. They forsook all and said one to another, "let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." Luke.2:15
God used an angelic visitation to inform that motley crew of His greatest gift to man, and they heard and acted; they saw and believed – and they shared this good news, "for all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them." Luke 2:18. Yet no doubt many of these enlightened ones cried: “Crucify“, not many years hence.
No doubt they returned the next day – and the following years to their humble task. Some – maybe disinclined to return from the former height to their humble duty? Most – no doubt preferring to remain enveloped in the glories of this disclosure.
How many of us, like these shepherds, have been in the very presence of God? How many of us, recall that wonderful transfiguring time, and long for its return? How many even question the glorious promises, bestowed on us from earlier days? How many start to wonder if the closeness, once discovered, when in His Presence.. was but an illusion; a dream; a forgotten hope; a lost delight – as they also leave that high point in their lives and walk away (leaving their first love).
Peter preferred the transfiguration mount to the toils and struggles of earthly life. No doubt the shepherds' preference would have been to remain forever in this zenith. But former spiritual bliss should make us more diligent and devoted in little things: "You have been faithful over a little, I’ll set you over much; enter into the joy of your Lord." Matt.25:23
It is easy to worship and trust when immersed in the glories of His person and presence. It is more challenging, to remain faithful through the dark cloud of disappointment. It’s more grueling to believe amidst the storms of confusion and nights of blackness. It’s more discouraging to trust when faith seems to be taxed beyond breaking point.
But do not lose heart, and do not be disobedient to the heavenly vision” of former days…”but be thou faithful even to the point of death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Rev.2:10. Be faithful… not only to the point of physical death... but to the death of Self – death of the old sin-nature itself.
Never lose that sense of His holy presence and His precious nearness, for He is never far from any one of us – even in those dark nights of discontent. All he desires of His own is faithfulness and obedience – obedience to your heavenly visitation – not only in the days of great blessings but in times of trial, testing, and tribulation. Not only in the first flush of believing, when you had your own heavenly visitation, but through the entire journey of your whole wilderness walk, right through that night of discontent.
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