He wrapped his arms around her as she rested her head on his shoulder, for the first time in hours she was at total peace. She reached up with a tender finger and traced the outline of his jaw, his eyes never left hers. He stared at her as if staring into her soul as she began to melt. She felt completely at home and safe in his arms, a place she never wanted to leave. She could feel his strength and it made her feel delicate, like something to be cherished. He brushed her cheek with his fingertips and pushed back a strand of hair that had fallen across her eyes, then he took a small cloth and wiped a bead of sweat that had formed on her brow. She caught her breath for just a moment and he reached down and rubbed the small of her back until she began to relax again... It was going to be a long night. They sat in silence and she was completely comfortable with that because they needed no words. Truly there really were no words to express the emotions that grew in either of their hearts; so silence was good. She had pondered many things over the last few months, but how this man had come to be hers was one of the more prevalent of all her pondering. She had always believed that God would provide and that he would make a way where there seemed to be no way, but with this one.... well it seemed to be too good to be true. In spite of the comfort she felt in his arms the pain became more than she thought she could bear. It came in waves that shook the core of her being and she began to wonder if any good could thing come from such agony. Wave after wave of pain riped through her. He began to nuzzle her and whispered words of encouragement into her ear. She wept and he wept with her as she struggled to bring light into a very dark world. He felt so helpless, so unprepared for the task at hand and she seemed so young and fragile, but she had no doubts. She knew every thing God had spoken to her was true, unbelievable but true. If she ever had a doubt it was quickly chased away when Joseph refused to send her away. God had worked many miracles in her life, but the most stunning of all was the man he had selected to accompany her on this journey of journeys.... Yes, God had given her a good man.
The night was as still as they had seen it in a while. Not a breeze could be felt as they lay around the camp. The older of the shepherds had already drifted into their nightly slumber. Since they had seniority they got the first hours of watch, the one in the early evening hours. They left the early morning hours to the young shepherds. The older shepherds had seen all of the strange early morning happenings, heard all of the alarming noises that accompanied the darkness. As far as they were concerned the young ones needed the experience in determining the difference between real danger and imagined danger. It was funny the tricks your mind could play on you when all you had was the moon and the sound of the earth to keep you awake. Besides, watching the young ones get used to the dark hours amused the old ones immensely. The young ones would not wake the old ones unless they knew there was a real threat. They were tired of their over reactions being the topic of every village meal once they returned home. After a while it just wasn't funny anymore, at least not to them. The shepherds like the rest of the world had been lulled into somewhat of a spiritual slumber. Stories of the coming Messiah was part of their heritage, something they grew up hearing about all their lives. The 400 years of silence had brought some Jews to cease the anticipation of the long awaited Messiah. Many had gone about their daily lives as if a Savior would never come. Among the shepherds in the field that night, many of the young ones had never given it much thought.... That was until the sky began to lighten as if covered by a white mist. At first they stared in total shock, there was no way they would wake the old ones because the sky was turning a hazy white. Then as they continued to look the outline of the angels began to materialize before their very eyes. Ever so gradually angel after angel appeared, transfixed between heaven and earth. Although the stillness never ceased, an atmosphere of anticipation began to sweep over the country side awakening the older shepherds. Their eyes popped open like wild prey was standing over them. Immediately their eyes turned upward to see the appearing of what looked like angels... If this was a dream it was no ordinary dream and if this wasn't a dream then this was no ordinary night.
The wings of the angles spread out touching tip to tip creating a barrier around the young couple. They had been given strict instructions about the amount of comfort they could give. Their presence provided cover from the evil forces that searched throughout the area looking to interfere with the Father's plans. The head angel had been the one chosen to deliver the message to the young girl in the beginning. He remembered how young and innocent she looked as he relayed the message of the coming events. For just a second he wondered if he had misinterpreted his instructions and was giving the news to the wrong girl. Surely this could not be the one the Father had selected to bring the Savior into the world. A quickening in the heaven's got his attention and he continued to recite the news to the girl who stood mesmerized by his words. Tonight she looked totally different than she had the day he first saw her. It seemed she had aged 10 years. No longer did she look like a child, tonight she looked like a woman in the travail of giving birth. Being selected by the Father doesn't mean the journey will be easy, that's why such care is taken in those he chooses. Tonight the Father's instructions were very pointed. They were sent to provide protection, strength and encouragement. They were prevented however, from relieving the couple from any pain or trouble experienced in a typical earthly childbirth. It was difficult to stand back and not intervene. The best they could do is prompt Joseph with encouraging words to offer Mary and to give them both strength that had been sent with them from above. Still it looked to be a very agonizing process, this birth. The angels staunchly held their ground and trusted that the Father knew best when it came to the process of saving the world. This wasn't what they imagined when they were given the assignment of protecting the couple as they delivered the King of Kings.... This was much more humble and these people more common than they expected . No, this couple was not the typical royal family most would be looking for, and their son would prove in every possible way that he would not be.... a typical King.
By the hundreds they gathered over the field, a whole host of angels. They could see the shepherds thoughtlessly going through their duties, the way earthly bound beings thoughtlessly went about everything. Some of the more cynical angels seemed a little disappointed that the proclamation they were prepared to give would be done in such a mundane setting, but those thoughts were fleeting. This was the night that all of heaven had been preparing for thousands of years. This would be the night that changed all of humanity for eternity. The angels could not help but wonder if the earthly bound beings would grasp the meaning of it all. They were so limited by their insight and knowledge of all things spiritual. Yet, that was not their concern. Their mission had been carefully planned, the announcement would be made as soon as the signal was given. That was another thing. Although the mission carefully planned, the announcement meticulously written the actual signal itself had not been described. They were simply told that they would recognize the signal when it was given. The angels had no trouble accepting this as fact and eagerly awaited the moment. The earthly bound beings may not know what was going on this gentle evening, but without a doubt the earth herself knew that all things would soon change. The shepherds had began to notice the ever changing sky and they stood like statues staring in awe at the sight that unfolded before them. The angels, the shepherds and even the sheep stood in anticipation, waiting for the moment when heaven and earth would meet in the form of a crying child.
Love at First Sight
She gasped for air, she prayed for strength and she thought the pain would never end. For hours her body had been torn apart by wave after wave of pain. Sweat poured from her brow, her lips were parched from her rapid breathing and she didn't know how much longer she would be able to endure. The arms that had cradled her so gently earlier were now like a noose around her neck. She didn't want to be touched, she didn't want to be left alone, she just wanted it to end and end quickly. Joseph paced back and forth, wringing his hands in worry. Each time he saw her relax for a second or two he would kneel beside her, offer her a drink, wipe her brow then quickly step aside before the next wave of pain started. How much longer he wondered. Suddenly she sat up and took a deep breath. When she exhaled a moan escaped her lips that was so deep and so barbaric that it caught him by surprise. Her face became white as ash and her head dropped till her chin touched her chest. At that moment he heard the release of water and blood pour from her womb. In an instant the earth was caught in a large vacuum like all of the oxygen had been sucked from the air and then immediately a rushing wind swept through the manger, then silence. Nothing but silence. She reached down and picked up the pasty infant that lay between her legs. With her touch he let out a wail. His arms waved wildly in the night air, his fingers and toes were spread apart like he had just been dropped in ice cold water. He shook all over as he cried and quickly, so quickly his skin turned red. The softest of sighs came from her chest as she brought him to her cheek. The babe turned his head to meet her cheek as if to give her a kiss. For the first time in history, heaven met humanity and without a doubt it was love at first sight.