THE CHRISTMAS STORM: A Modern Parable by Paul Harvey
“This is about a modern man, one of us, he was not a Scrooge, he was a kind, decent, mostly good man, generous to his family, upright in his dealings with others. But he did not believe in all that incarnation stuff that the Churches proclaim at Christmas time. It just didn’t make sense to him and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just could not swallow the Jesus story of God coming to earth as a man. I’m truly sorry to distress you, he told his wife, but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve. He said he’d feel like a hypocrite. That he would much rather stay home, but that he would wait up for them. He stayed, they went. Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier, then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another and another. At first, he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. Well, when he went to the front door, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter they had tried to fly through his large landscape window. Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze. He remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter — if he could direct the birds to it. He quickly put on his coat and galoshes, trampled through the deepening snow to the barn, opened the door wide, and turned on a light. But the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in and he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable, but to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them, he tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms — instead, they scattered in every direction except into the warm lighted barn. Then he realized they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature if only I could think of some way to let them know they can trust me. That I’m not trying to hurt them but to help them. How? Any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him. If only be a bird myself he thought. If only I could be a bird and mingle with them and speak their language, and tell them not to be afraid, and show them the way to the safe, warm barn. But I’d have to be one of them so they could see and hear and understand.
At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sound of the wind. He stood there listening to the bells. Adeste Fideles. Listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.
The man in the story realized just why God came to Earth as Jesus, born into this world as a baby and lived here as a man. The birds wouldn’t follow him because he wasn’t a bird, in the same way, we wouldn’t follow God unless He became a man like us to know the feelings and the sorrows of being human.
So, after that story, I want to ask you about all of the shepherds that God has used in many wonderful ways. How many people in the Bible were shepherds that God used for His purposes?
In Genesis, Abel was a shepherd before Cain killed him. He gave the first of his flock to the Lord as a sacrifice. It may be worth noting that many biblical figures were shepherds, among them the patriarchs Abraham and Jacob, most of the twelve tribes were shepherds, the prophet Moses, King David, and the Old Testament prophet Amos, who was a shepherd in the rugged area around Tekoa.
All of these men were used by God as leaders and kings of Israel, just as Jesus came to be the Good Shepherd not only for Israel but for the whole world or at least those who will believe in Him for their salvation.
The angels visited the shepherds who were keeping the lambs for the Passover in order to tell them about the Savior being born in Bethlehem, lying in a manger. Why did God do that? Was it because Jesus was to be a leader, a King, the Savior of the world? Yes, it was because of all of these things and more!
God used His Son as our Savior and as the Lamb of the Passover, given as the one and only sacrifice for all of the world’s sins. He has also used other shepherds in the past, as well as other kings and armies to punish and do His will and purposes. Just as He does today. God can do anything He wishes, through anyone He pleases, whether they are saved or not, and He will make sure that whatever His purpose is, it will be done.
God raised up Pharaoh in order to show the world, at the time, that the gods in Egypt weren’t gods at all. He used Goliath to bring David into view of the whole army of Israel and show that if you fight with God on your side, you can’t be defeated!
God used shepherds because in society and regarding worship in the Temple, they were considered unclean. Yet, it was the shepherds who took care of the lambs which were sacrificed for the sins of the people. God can use anyone, in any situation or occupation, to accomplish His purposes. Since we are about to go into a new year in a few days, please be in prayer asking Him to show you what you can do for Him and His Kingdom this year. Some of us have an important job already as parents because we are teaching the next generation about their Savior. Seek Him out in prayer and in reading His Word this year to find your place, your part in His Kingdom because He does have a place for you.