Journey to the Manger: Shepherds

Lauren cradles our baby Jesus in her arms, imagining what it might have been like for the shepherds to see the Messiah.

Lauren cradles our baby Jesus in her arms, imagining what it might have been like for the shepherds to see the Messiah the night he was born.

Today we ran to Bethlehem with the shepherds on our Journey to the Manger.

Shepherds

Shepherds

Once they got over the shock of being face-to-face with an angel, the shepherds soaked in the amazing message of hope and the chorus of praise echoing across the fields. The Savior, the Messiah, was in Bethlehem, just a few miles from where they were, wrapped up and cradled in a manger, of all places. God had chosen them, outcast shepherds, to herald His Son’s birth. What an amazing, unprecedented honor!

The shepherds proved their trust in God Almighty. They left their livelihood resting under the night’s sky, and high-tailed it across the open fields to see with their eyes what they already believed in their hearts.

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger.

– Luke 2:15-16

The shepherds were committed. Who knows how long they looked for Jesus, but they kept searching until they found the One the angel announced. Tonight, we searched for the baby, too. We each took turns placing a doll somewhere in our great room, and then everyone else had to come search for it.

Faith must be followed by action. The shepherds believed, and then went to worship and then share the Good News with everyone they met. This Christmas, God wants His message of hope to move us to action. He is looking for those willing to relentlessly pursue Christ, no matter the cost.

Christmas isn’t to observe from a distance. Jesus came so we could personally experience His love, and feel His embrace.

Jackson holds the baby after searching for it in our game tonight.

Jackson holds the baby after searching for it in our game tonight.

Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.

Jackson’s heart for Joplin’s children

My four-year-old Jackson has really discovered the meaning of compassion this week.

With the tornadoes and storms hitting so close to home in the last several days, Jackson really wanted to understand what had happened, especially in Joplin. We have had many, many talks about tornadoes, and when he finally began to comprehend what these storms did to the city and how people were affected, he became very concerned.

In particular, he continued to ask me what happened to the children in Joplin. His heart was broken over them, and we have prayed together, on his prompting, for the children. He asked God to find their roofs and doors in the sky and bring them back so they could have houses again. He asked God to send the storms and tornadoes away so they could be safe. I encouraged him to keep praying, because by praying, we are taking action and helping those children and families.

After praying, Jackson decided he wanted to go to Joplin and build all the children houses so they could be safe again. He was very adamant, and talked about that for most of the day yesterday. Though that idea was a very sweet and caring one, we decided that instead he would practice here with Lincoln Logs. I recommended we look around the house for things we could give to the children to help them. So, we began our search, and he helped fill two boxes with toilet paper, toothbrushes, soap, etc. Today, our whole family went to a drop off point here in town, and Jackson delivered our gifts to help the children he is praying for.

This is the first time as a family we have done something like this. Independently, Matt and I have reached out to families in need, with the kids in tow, but this time Jackson took the lead. I am so proud of him, and I hope to continue encouraging him to show compassion to those around him, sharing Jesus’ love.

It’s never too early to encourage empathy in children, because even four-year-olds can have a heart for the world.

Jackson and Matt carrying our gifts to Joplin's children at a drop off point in Mountain View, MO