Over the years, there have been a number of movies and songs entitled “Walk, Don’t Run”. But my most vivid recollections of that expression are from my childhood. i remember hearing it from teachers and my parents as they cautioned me to slow down and pay attention to where i was going, so i didn’t trip and fall. But today, i am mindful that two thousand years ago, there was a group of shepherds who were told to do just the opposite.
God will never lead us on a journey that does not bring glory to His Name. He has purposed to draw all men, all tongues, all tribes and all peoples to Himself that we might glorify Him. He sent Jesus to pay the price and make the way. And He has sent us, that we might join Him in His global mission. Jesus began His own incarnational journey by stepping from heaven to earth. And if we desire to walk with Him, we must in turn step from where we are to journey with Him.
The first men to take that step after Jesus came to earth were the shepherds (Luke 2). A recurring theme we see throughout Scripture is that God’s invitation always comes to people right where they are. That was certainly the case with the shepherds. They were in the fields, doing what shepherds do, watching over their sheep. They didn’t need to be at the synagogue, or even in their prayer closets, to receive God’s invitation. Now that’s not to say that God couldn’t have spoken to them at the synagogue, or in their prayer closets; rather, it is to say that, most often, God will invite us, right where we are.
i believe that some of us miss out on walking with Jesus because we have determined that we are not in the right place, or this is not the right time or season of life for me to join Him. One day in the future, perhaps I’ll be ready, but now is not the time. Or some of us may have an urge to join Him, but we’re delaying our departure because we’re too busy – “there is no way I can go; I’m far too busy guarding the sheep.” Well that urging that you sense, that voice that you hear, is God inviting you to step out – now – and come join Him.
How do we know that it is God’s invitation? How do we know that it is Hisvoice? Well, look at the shepherds. We read, “the radiance of God’s glory surrounded them.” Everything that God does radiates His glory! They saw His glory and they knew! What’s that you say – you’ve never seen the radiance of God’s glory? God knew their hearts. He knew before He invited them that they would respond. He knew that they had ears to hear and eyes to see. He knew that as He revealed His glory, they would respond to His glory. Could it be that God knows our hearts as well? Of course He does! And He knows how we will respond. If we have not seen the radiance of His glory, could it perhaps be because we are not prepared to respond to His glory? The Lord didn’t come to them that night because they were watching for Him – they didn’t have a clue that the angel would appear that night or any night. But they had hearts that were willing to respond. Jesus said, “Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand” (Matthew 11:15). We don’t set the time or the place that He comes to us – He does; but we must have hearts that are willing to respond.
How did they first respond when the Lord revealed His glory through the angel? With fear – they were “terriblyfrightened”. Permit me to categorize fear in three ways – one that i will call “unhealthy fear”, one that i will call “healthy fear” and the other “reverent fear”. “Unhealthy fear” is that apprehension, anxiety, dread or despair that we allow to paralyze us or plague us. It is the fear of what other people will think or do or say, or how a possible or probable situation or event will unfold. “Healthy fear” is that emotion that is responding to evil or the expectation of it. Or, it is the apprehension of impending danger or wrongdoing or the consequence of it. “Healthy fear” causes us to avoid that evil or danger, or confront it in an appropriate manner. “Reverent fear” is that reverence and awe that overshadows us when we come into the presence of the Sovereign and Almighty God, Then, having encountered His holiness and majesty, we are now confronted with our own sinfulness and unworthiness. As a result, we are compelled to walk in the awareness that our every thought, attitude and action is being observed by Him. Abraham and Moses were recorded in Scripture as being the “friends” of God. They walked in reverent fear before Him. It is that kind of fear, the writer of Proverbs says, that leads to the knowledge of Him, and wisdom and understanding. The angel declared to the shepherds to not be paralyzed by “unhealthy fear” but to be propelled by “reverent fear”.
And i love how Scripture records their response – “the shepherds RAN to the village”. When the Lord has invited us to join Him on the journey, we are to go without hesitation – to go “full out” – not allowing anything to detract us or distract us, in or from the journey with Him.
And after having seen Jesus, they “told everyone what had happened”. As we go, we will tell everyone we encounter of the One we have seen and heard, and the One with Whom we have walked. We will be people that God uses to fulfill His mission and bring Himself glory.
So, are you ready to run? He’s invited us to go with Him. Let’s not just walk; let’s run to Jesus – and let’s run with Jesus, wherever He leads.
That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior--yes, the Messiah, the Lord -- has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!”
…They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this Child. All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished.
(Luke 2:8-11, 16-18 NLT)
Excerpt from Walking With The Master.