A Breath of Fresh Air
A Merry Heart
A Woman's World
A Word in Season
Acting Up
As I Imitate Christ
Cyber Walk
Faith Seekers
Golden Apples
Heaven Bound
Just Between Men
Take it to Heart
Teen Truth
The Joy of Family
The Parents'
Survival Guide

The Rhythm of Life
The Treehouse
Through Their Eyes
'Tis the Season
We Are the Church
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HeavenA Shepherd's Tale
By Gary Sims

As the brightness of the new day's dawn filled his room, Josh turned his back to the window and pulled the covers tightly around his head. After working late the night before, he had planned to remain ensconced in his bed well beyond noon, but sleep had avoided him. With his eyes firmly shut and with a determination to keep the morning light at bay, Josh mulled over the previous night's events.

It simply had been another concert. He had been to many like it before. Working as a security guard for these special events that frequently came into town had garnered him some much-needed extra cash. At first he had been excited by the added fringe benefit of attending all these "free" programs, but the glitz and glamour had worn off quickly. The job had turned into a routine of ushering concertgoers to and from their seats.

"It was simply another concert." This thought repeatedly rolled through his head as sleep feigned and feinted beyond his grasp. "No, this one had been different."

Something had happened that would change his life forever. Accepting this thought, he threw back the covers and sprung from the clutches of his bed; its promise of rest unfulfilled. Mulling over the loss of sleep was not the mantra that filled his brain as he showered and dressed for the day.

He repeatedly said to himself, "Things are different; the world is changed. I am changed."

By the time his morning routine came to an end, his thoughts had turned to James and Jake, his closest friends since middle school days. Nothing had happened in his life without them being involved.

"The Three J's" had been the name of their first band, and even though they had begun to follow separate careers, they remained close, sharing all aspects of their lives with each other. Telling them of the wonder he had experienced became his top priority for the day.

He called James and asked him to meet at Guitar City. The music store had been their favorite place to hang out ever since Jake began working there. It had become the launch pad for all their adventures together. As he drove to the store, Josh nervously prepared the message he would share with them. He didn't know what they would think, but since his life had been changed so dramatically, there was no choice but to recount his experiences.

Standing in the parking lot next to the music store, Josh took his friends through the events of the previous evening. He told them how the ushering chores had been fairly easy, as the crowd had followed directions in an orderly manner. Anticipation for the night's event seemed high and as the time had drawn near for the concert to begin he had felt the excitement grow.

The performing band was more than the simple four-piece rock group that usually donned the stage. This stage was filled with singers. The robes they wore were of every color and style imaginable. It was as though a rainbow had filled the whole place. Josh remembered how their voices, without amplification, had permeated the night sky.

At one time he had looked to the full moon over head and wondered if the smile on its face was due to the choir's heavenly sound. He had heard nothing like it before. "A Heavenly Host," he had told his friends, not knowing from where these words came or what they meant exactly. A speaker had come on stage following the choir, and the crowd had listened expectantly.

"Do you ever wonder about God?" Josh asked, looking directly towards James. "Do you ever wonder if He really exists?"

His friends seemed hesitant to answer and Josh sensed their uneasiness growing.

"Okay, okay. Bear with me for a moment." Josh paused and reconsidered his tack.

"Let's just assume for argument sake that there is a God, okay?"

Pushing on without waiting for a reply he added, "If there is a God, have you ever wondered where you could find him?"

Jake's nervous laugh revealed more than the few words expressed. "Uh, in a church? I would think you would go to a church to find God. Right James?"

"Exactly! That's what I thought." Josh's excitement grew.

"But you know what? I found him last night at the Pavilion; right there in the middle of the concert. Can you believe it? First the choir sang, sounding just like angels … and then this guy starts talking about the Savior – the one who came from God to walk on earth."

James took a quick glance towards Jake and then offered, "That's Jesus, right? You are talking about Jesus, aren't you?"

"Yes and no." Josh began stumbling with his words. How could he explain?

"I mean, yes – Jesus. But it's something more. You should have been there. It was amazing to watch. You see, this guy starts talking about Jesus and he says some of the usual things you expect him to say, you know, Son of God, Messiah, Savior … those types of things. But then the most incredible thing happened. People in the crowd started walking toward the stage. At first I thought I was supposed to stop them, but the other guards just acted as if everything was okay, so I let them by. When I looked into their faces I saw…"

His voice died off as his mind focused again on those beautiful expressions that had changed his life.

The conversation in the parking lot lasted for the entire lunch hour until Jake had to get back to work. Josh could tell they didn't understand what he had experienced, but they had listened closely and tried to follow his reasoning.

"Reasoning," he thought to himself. "How do you reasonably tell someone that you have found God?"

He was so awe-struck. That is exactly what had happened. What surprised him the most was that God wasn't sitting far off in some heavenly place. No, that's not God at all. God came one Christmas morning in an ordinary manger for ordinary shepherds to see. But He didn't just come and then leave. What Josh saw that special night with the heavenly choir is that God keeps coming into the hearts of those he loves. He comes and He lives among us.

"God is with us." Josh repeated the thought over again in his head. "God is with us."

With this abiding truth in his heart, his life would never be the same.

He turned to get into his car. "God is with ME."
Gary Sims is a husband and father of two teens. He is a Lay Worship Leader and Teacher at First United Methodist Church, Albuquerque, NM. Gary writes a Lectionary-based daily devotional entitled "Reflections of the Spirit", which can be found at http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=2297 and is also our Editor for As I Imitate Christ. You may write to Gary care of the Letters page of this magazine.
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