In the midst of the chaos of a massive internal migration, and the frayed nerves of those caught in an overwhelmed infrastructure, God did something almost no one noticed. Even if they had noticed, they wouldn’t have understood its significance.
So, God sent a messenger to explain it to people who were a little outside the fray.
Essentially the message was this: ‘It may seem like an insignificant baby has been born, but in reality, God Himself has come . . . and His coming is the opening of a window of grace for the whole world.’ This announcement caused even eternal angels to burst into praise. They kept glorifying God for this incredible act of love and grace by the all-powerful Lord of the universe. They recognized the goodness of God and proclaimed a blessing over humankind.
But most everyone else was still oblivious.
Years later, Jesus Himself explained that God likes to begin with small things. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed,” He said.
God is still planting seeds, no matter what stress we are passing through.
We are invited to do two things with them: 1. Notice them, and 2. Nurture them.
How do we do that?
First, we can practice a restful attentiveness so we recognize God working. For me that requires coming to a full stop for at least 10 minutes each day. It’s not enough to just pray-on-the-go (though that is a very good thing). Even reading or listening to a Bible passage isn’t enough on its own (though the Word of God is essential for spiritual life). If I don’t stop everything and quiet my mind in God’s presence, I rush through days without recognizing His work and His voice.
Once we see God planting something, we are invited to nurture it. Probably the most important part of that is to have eyes of faith to see the future possibilities. Then perhaps we have opportunity to give an encouraging word or take a small step in that direction. We can faithfully and gently prepare Him room.
All in all, the angels’ message to the shepherds was one of grace:
He is nearer than you think;
even at this moment He is making provision for you;
He is actively doing good.
Come and see for yourselves.