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When The Secular Meets The Sacred

Did you ever notice that Heaven's revelation nearly always comes to man in moments of earthly toil rather than in hours of leisure or so-called worship? The Divine call reaches people when they are engaged in their every-day tasks.

What is being said here?

Basically, that God chooses to show up in our lives - for the most part - when we are busy doing our everyday jobs or common tasks.

We see this repeatedly displayed throughout the Bible. It was when Moses was on the backside of the desert tending to sheep when he experienced the burning bush. It was when David was busy caring for his father's sheep when he was called to stand before Samuel the Prophet and to be anointed Israel's next king. It was while Peter and Andrew were casting a net into the sea that Jesus called them to be His followers. It was while James and John were mending their nets that they received their call. And Matthew, the publican, was at the receipt of custom when he received his call.

There is something about the common tasks of life. To you they may seem - at times - to be so insignificant or lack any meaning whatsoever. In fact, for some, they may even be a drudgery. Yet, it is the Lord's will to sanctify life's common things whereby they cease to be common. The earthly becomes less earthly when heaven is seen more in it.

On your side of Heaven - the earth side - all you can see is a menial 8-4 job. However, when your heart becomes tuned by intense desire to the heavenly harmonies, you can oftentimes break through "past the veil" - so to speak - and bring heaven down into your midst. Yes, even in the midst of a job that is so hard and at times very oppressive.

This is God's desire. 

It is no accident that you are stationed at that particular workplace with the kind of people who are called to be your co-workers. If you will simply become a citizen of two worlds and invite Jesus to "take over"...have His way...or bring Heaven down in your midst, you will be surprised at what He will do for you. He will sanctify that place and make it His dwelling place where He can work and perform the supernatural. He only asks that you would keep your one eye on your work and the other towards heaven at all times.

There were a group of laborers in the Bible who had a visitation from God right on the job. Their lives were forever "ruined" for the ordinary. Their job was taken out of the secular realm and placed into that of the sacred. It was the manifestation of the "glory of God" that made the difference.

The group that we are referring to are the shepherds.  

Read their account in Luke 2:8 - "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night."

Shepherds were anything but refined folk. They spent weeks in the wild with bleating and stinking sheep and goats. The smell from these animals would rub off on them. They worked year-long swing shifts and were required to transfer from one place to another in search of food and water for their critters. When the winter rains ceased and spring arrived, there was plenty of grass on which their flocks could feed. After a harvest, their herds were turned loose in the empty fields to graze on anything left behind. However, when these conditions were not present, they were forced to move farther and farther away from home in search of green pastures.

Oftentimes, the villagers would pay the shepherds to tend their flocks in the outlying countryside. They were then held responsible for their sheep and goats until their wandering was finished.

The shepherd carried a tent with him, but this could not shield him from the hardships of thirst, cold, and lack of sleep. Whenever a sheep was injured, he was required to carry it on his shoulders to safety. Whenever one was lost, he had to go out and find it. The sheep needed constant oversight because there were so many dangers from wild animals such as lions, bears, wild dogs, and hyenas which came up from the jungles surrounding the Jordan River gorge.

The sheep constantly needed water. Hence, the shepherd had to plan his daily circuit accordingly. Since they got bogged down in running water, still water was preferable. When the hot summer months progressed, the availability of water dwindled. Then he had to depend on the area wells to quench their thirst. He could never drive the animals too far into the pasture where they were not able to return to the troughs at evening. 

At nighttime, the sheep were gathered together into a safe place. At this time, the  shepherd's work was cut out for him. He had to build a fence with gathered stones and then top it off with a thorny bush to dissuade predators. He would then lay down at the opening of the sheepfold  - becoming the "door."  Before going to sleep, he had to count the sheep - using his staff. As they passed through the narrow opening of the sheepfold, he would mark every tenth one with the bottom of his staff that was dipped in dye. This mark designated them as the ones to be given to God as the tithe.

With his rod - a big club embedded with sharp stones or nails in the working end - he beat off predators and robbers during the day and at night. Many a shepherd lost their lives fighting back. They knew that if they did not protect the flock, they would have to make good the losses to their owners.

With his staff or walking stick, he would nudge a wayward sheep in the right direction or lift or turn a sheep that had gotten into trouble.

We would all have to agree - this job was a hard one - and most likely not very enviable by the public.

While the entire surrounding area slept, who really cared about the shepherds who were working around the clock to keep the sheep comfortable and safe? Was anyone concerned about their safety as they faced predators and robbers during the day and night? Did anyone commend them for the hard work that they did?

There was One Who took notice of them. That One was God.

History has it that the shepherds of Luke 2:8 were no common men. They happened to be Hebrews - possibly of the royal line. They were devout God-fearing men - citizens of two worlds - so to speak. They had something heavenly about them. Their job was to pasture the flocks destined for the Temple sacrifices.

On the night of Christ's birth, their secular job met with the sacred side. This is how the Bible describes that "Holy Night" on the job - "And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men"(Luke 2:9-14).

Imagine that! Heaven's revelation came to a group of smelly shepherds - watching their flock by night. While the world was asleep, these men were experiencing the "glory of God."

And to think - this was all happening on the job!

God didn't wait until they got home...were in the synagogue on the Sabbath day...or at the Temple offering a sacrificial lamb.

He pierced their secular world with the sacred. He totally turned their world upside down. They were never the same again after this incident. And they probably looked at shepherding with a different light - themselves and all those who heard their story.

Heaven's revelation nearly always comes to man in moments of earthly toil.

Suppose you are the one whom God will visit next with a manifestation of His "glory." Don't think that He will not show up at your place of employment. He did so for so many throughout the Bible.

Keep your eyes on your work but your heart open toward heaven. And then see what He will do from there.

Maybe no one else notices you on your job or the hard work that you do. God certainly does. If you will keep your attitude right, He will pierce your secular world with the sacred - that is, if you will allow Him to do so.

His Divine Call knows how to reach you - yes, even when you are engaged in your every-day task.

Begin to see more of heaven in the common things.

May God Bless His Word.