I’ve never seen an angel (that I’m aware of, though I’ve often wondered about a few people who moved in and out of my life very swiftly—and left huge blessings in their wake). To be honest, I’m not sure what I would do if I saw one.
From Scripture it seems that perhaps they are more terrifying than we tend to think. The pretty gal with the glowing hair and fluttering wings? Not so much.
Since one of the names we are given in Scripture of the Creator is “God of Angel Armies” I would guess that an angel might look a bit more like an army general.
In the book of Luke (Luke 2:8-21) we hear about the angels who announce the Messiah’s birth to a group of shepherds. Apparently this was a surprising turn of events as the shepherds were the unlearned of the Jewish society.
I’ve never herded sheep. Not once. But I have lived in a country and culture where oppression abounds. Where the unlearned are labeled and set aside.
Interestingly enough, I met some of the most fascinating and devout Believers in the hill country where schools are few and most everyone is scraping together the scraps to get by.
We went to a church way up there in the mountains of Haiti—and I still remember that feeling of unworthiness I felt when they welcomed us in and sat us in chairs at the front. A place of honor. I looked around at the faces of these beautiful men and women of faith, the ones who worshiped God with open hands, and I bowed my head low.
I think I know why the angel went to the shepherds.
If I was an angel bringing the greatest news of all time, I would go to the hard working, the poor—the ones in the hills who are unseen by society but seen so well by their Father.
I would go to them because they would get it. They wouldn’t be dissuaded by a smelly stable, by the manure, by a missing crown on a newborn king. They wouldn’t even notice.
Hardship is part of life. But the grace of God? It’s the thing they need to survive.
So they learn to worship with open hands.
We think we need to educate the masses. Bless them with our superior knowledge, our gold-lined pocketbooks, our justice-plans.
But maybe—maybe we just need to go live among them. To be the minority. To be the one who knows nothing. To watch the unforced rhythms of grace that pour from their lives.
To learn to worship with arms lifted high and hands open.
Hardship is a part of life. We can’t cling to anything here too tightly.
Not our families. Not our jobs. Not our dreams. Not our image in society.
So today, again, I peel back my fingers. The ones that cling to my “picture-perfect” dreams for this holiday season—the ones that cling to my ideals for life—the ones that cling to my ideals for my daughter and my husband and my friends—and I raise open hands.
Make me more like shepherds, Lord. The ones who heard the news, dropped everything, and went to investigate this universe-altering announcement. Make my heart ready for the moment You decide to shake up my world, to reveal Yourself to me.
Tear apart any pride left in me. Shake up my desire to be like the “successful” or to make my family or my life look a certain way. Teach me to worship You with open hands.
And Lord, while we’re chatting, I do have one more request. You know those Believers in L’azille? Way up in the mountains of Haiti? Send them a taste of Your glory tonight. Wrap around them and breathe through them and shake their foundations with Your majesty. Bless their open hands by filling them to overflowing.