“For the real good of every gift is essential first, that the giver be in the gift — as God always is, for He is love — and next, that the receiver know and receive the giver in the gift. Every gift of God is but a harbinger of His greatest and only sufficing gift — that of Himself. No gift unrecognized as coming from God is at its own best: therefore many things that God would gladly give us, things even that we need because we are, must wait until we ask for them, that we may know whence they come: when in all gifts we find Him, then in Him we shall find all things.”

— George MacDonald

Beneath a glassy, crisp, crystalline night, warming by the fire as the day’s activity gave way to tending to every chore an ordinary night demands, busying themselves with resolve while listening as the years had so trained, the shepherds watched. Routine did not mute their attention. Their crooks rested on the ground, their eyes about field. If all remained as it was, another night would pass, and another dawn would come as all other nights and dawns before.

Unsuspecting, within a twitch, a figure appeared to them, jarring their vigilance into fear. What stood before them? An apparition? A thief? They heard no bleating or rustling grass. Bright stars, one certain one, provided ample light to see. And still, they had not detected the stranger.

Then the angel said, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

“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, goodwill toward men!”

Such the angel appeared and disappeared. The shepherds took leave with crook in hand and went to find the Babe lying in a manger. Finding him, each made known what was told them concerning the Child. The shepherds returned praising and glorifying God for all they had seen and heard.

On their return, each wondered what had happened and among them each began to talk about its meaning. All agreed their words could not express their newfound knowledge, but they knew the night had been severed with a contentment only understanding yields. No more could they be deterred by those ever-present dangers in their world, by pain and disappointment. No joy or success could fool them into believing this peace was their own doing. Having seen, each expressed a grateful heart, cherishing an understanding all was well despite the world. Underneath that star, all had been overcome.

And what of above the star but did God give Himself, the giver in the gift so each may receive and know. In the manger, we find Him. In the manger, we find all things. This night did not pass as before.

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for some 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Please visit his blog at deckcheatham.com. Email him at pgadeacon@gmail.com.

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