Return to Content
Read Our Devotional
Opportunities to be Published
The Home for Christian Writers! Matthew 6:33
ENCOURAGE AUTHOR BY COMMENTING
Add to Favorites
The Lonely Shepherd
Author requests article critique
The Lonely Shepherd
The night was dark and cold and there were very few stars in the sky. The sheep were all counted and the shepherds were beginning to gather round the fire for the night.
Nathaniel, the youngest shepherd boy had a very tedious job. It was his job to gather the dung off the hillside each day. He gathered it faithfully and spread it out to dry. Every day just before sunset, he would gather the dried dung and place it in his basket. The dung was used at night for the fires at the gathering place. That was where each shepherd with their flocks gathered in the evening to share there thoughts and talk about the promise of Messiah.
Sometimes their discussions would go long into the night. After the fires became glowing embers, the sheep were counted once again, this time by Nathaniel. He would be in the sheep pen pretending that he was the head shepherd and that all the sheep belonged to him.
Often you could hear the wolves howling behind the hills and it would send a chill down Nathaniel’s back. He was the youngest shepherd boy. He was only twelve years old. All the other boys were closer to fourteen and they often picked on Nathanial. They would call him names, like ‘dung boy’ and ‘stinky’.
Nathaniel tried to ignore the cruel taunts of the other boys; he spent a lot of his time alone. It was at that time that he would carve things.
He loved to carve and he was good at it. In the daytime when he was alone and finished his work, he would carve intricate little animals, whistles, and staffs out of the sticks of wood he would gather.
Other times, he would pretend that he was a great shepherd with the best flock in all of Bethlehem, in all of Judea. He wanted to raise the best sheep for the yearly sacrifices.
This past week he had been selling extra dung to the travellers. Many people were coming from all over the land to pay heavy taxes. Cesar Augustus commanded that everyone be taxed. All those who where of the house of David went to Bethlehem.
He hoped to make enough money to help his papa buy some more sheep and especially the little white one he had seen in the market place. He wanted this to be a surprise for his beloved papa so he kept his money hid under some rocks right in the middle of the dunghill. He knew that no one would go there. He was the only one that ever went there. No one wanted to smell like sheep dung or camel dung or any kind of dung for that matter.
Tonight after he quieted the sheep, he sat alone on the hillside behind all the others shepherd. Suddenly the sky was filled with millions of brilliant stars at least they appeared to be stars but before Nathaniel could blink, he knew that they were really angels. They were singing “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace good will towards men.” They drew closer and closer to the shepherds as they sang with the most beautiful voices he had ever heard. Nathaniel blinked repeatedly and rubbed his eyes. He thought he was dreaming. However, when the host of the angels descended upon them and spoke he knew he was not dreaming.
The huge angel spoke with a thundering voice, “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 Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you, ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly it seemed as if all of heaven was singing and rejoicing. Their voices were ringing out the message as they praised God and sang, “Glory to God in the Highest, Glory to Our Great and Mighty God.”
All the shepherd’s fell on their faces and they trembled with fear. Nathaniel did too but he kept peeking up at the angels.
When the angel said, “Fear not,” all the shepherd’s looked upon the heavens in wonder and astonishment.
It seemed as if the angels where there for a lifetime and yet it was but a moment and they were gone.
The shepherds where still trembling as they chatted quietly among themselves. Their voices rose in a crescendo as the excitement of the events became a reality to them.
“Quiet, quiet down,” Elias the head shepherd said, “come, we must go, let’s go right now into Bethlehem lets find this child the angels sang and spoke about.”
All the shepherds’ quickly prepared to go. They were bumping into each other, grabbing the wrong staff and cloak; it seemed as if they were in a total state of frenzy.
“Calm down, calm down,” Elias shouted, “we must go, quickly but quietly.”
Matthias questioned Elias, “Who will stay with the sheep?”
Elias looked around carefully considering who would be the best person to stay with the sheep. Of course, no one wanted to stay behind. There was too much excitement in the air and everyone wanted to see this new baby, this Prince of Peace.
Even so, before Elias realized it some of the shepherds had left the hillside and headed for Bethlehem in their anticipation of seeing this holy child. Elias looked keenly over the few remaining shepherd’s and not one person moved. Finally, Elias’ eyes settled on Nathaniel.
“Why Nathanial will stay of course,” he said with his roaring voice.
“Mmmme, you don’t mean that do you?” Nathanial stuttered.
“Of course I do, come on Nathaniel you always wanted to be the lead Shepard didn’t you?” Elias said tauntingly.
“It’s settled then, Nathaniel is staying and the rest of us will go and see this holy child the angels spoke of, come, come we must hurry.” Elias called out and led the way as they all left for the village.
Nathaniel stood watching them all half walk and half run down the hill toward Bethlehem. They stumbled and tripped over each other all the while keeping their eyes focused between the sky and the city of Bethlehem.
Nathaniel plopped down right where he was. He let out a deep sigh and began to pray quietly to himself. He reached into his cloak and brought out the cup he kept there. It was a gift from his mother and he always took it out to look at and hold when he felt alone or afraid. She had given it too him just before she died. She told him to treasure it. She told him it was a beautiful chalice made by her father. He was a silversmith. She told him the cup was fit for a king. It was the cup of Elijah used at each Seder in their family.
He did not know how long he sat there praying and holding the cup but when he looked up all the shepherds where out of sight and he was alone on the hill with almost a hundred sheep. He looked at the sheep pen and much to his amazement he saw that the sheep were all contentedly sleeping or resting.
Nathaniel wrapped the chalice up carefully and put it back in his robe and picked up his piece of wood, got out his knife, and began to carve. He wanted to carve something special. He thought that maybe one day he would meet this holy child and he would be able to give him a gift. Somehow, he would get to see a baby that the angels sang about, a real prince who one day would be the king.
Nathaniel became so busy carving that he did not notice that all the shepherds had returned. When he looked up, he saw that all their faces where glowing and they could not stop talking about this wonderful event.
“God had been with them tonight,” Elias said to Nathaniel.
Soon all the shepherds settled down for the night whispering with one another about the wonder of the angels message and the holy child. It was not long before Nathaniel heard a lot of snoring rising above the camp.
This is my chance thought Nathaniel, everyone is sleeping or talking about the child and the sheep are content so I will go to the city and see this new baby for myself. No one will even miss me.
Nathaniel wrapped his fleece-lined robe tightly about him, took his small carving, and quietly headed out to Bethlehem. All he had to do was follow the brightest star in the sky for it shone brightly over the place where the baby was born.
When Nathaniel found the place where the baby was, he saw that it was nothing more than a stable where animals were kept. What kind of place is this for a king to be born Nathaniel pondered. He could not imagine a holy child being born in a smelly stable. Well he thought at least the holy child will not mind me visiting him, he will not be able to smell me because I smell like the animals beside Him.
All the animals where gathered around and the little baby was asleep in the manger on some rough straw. His mother was sleeping beside the manger and his earthly father was standing outside the door of the stable.
“Greetings,” Nathaniel said, “I’ve come to see the baby, my name is Nathaniel, I am a Shepherd?”
Nathaniel did not want this man to think he was the ‘dung boy’ for the shepherds on the hill, but instead a shepherd himself. . Who would want someone who gathered dung to visit a new born?
“Welcome, my name is Joseph, I am espoused to Mary the Child’s mother, come in,” he gently spoke to Nathaniel and then turning to his wife, “Mary, there is a little shepherd boy hear to see the baby may he come in?”
“Yes, yes of course, come, come.” She motioned for Nathaniel to come in and to see the baby.
“What’s his name?” Nathaniel asked.
“Jesus, his name is Jesus.” Mary said, “It means Emmanuel, God with us.”
Nathaniel knelt quietly beside the manger and took the little baby’s hand in his. The baby Jesus wrapped his little hand around one of Nathaniel’s fingers. Nathaniel stared in awe at the sweet child. A warm gentle peace came over Nathaniel. He had never felt this kind of peace before. He knew he was in the presence of God.
Nathaniel did not know how long he stayed there; once again, time did not exist.
He spoke quietly to Mary and said, “I’ve made him a toy, I carved it myself, may I leave it with him?”
“Of course you can, we will treasure it always, thank you Nathaniel,” Mary said.
Nathaniel quietly got up and turned to leave. Just as he reached the door, he remembered the chalice he had in his robe. He knew he had to leave it for the Christ Child. Something in his heart told him it was the right thing to do. Nathaniel turned and walked back to the manger.
I want to give him this; he unfolded the purple silk and laid the chalice in Mary’s hand.
“Maybe one day He will use this cup, it was the cup of Elijah in my family and my mother gave it to me before she died, my grandfather made it and I want the baby to have it.”
Mary accepted the gift and as Nathaniel looked into her eyes, he could sense sadness. He wondered why anyone would feel sadness at the birth of a child but he did not ask.
Nathanial turned to leave and when he opened the door, the moon was beaming down upon the stable. He turned to say good-bye to Mary and Joseph and to look once more upon the babe as he did he noticed a shadow falling upon baby Jesus, it was in the shape of a cross.
Author Val Gordon
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR BELOW
LEAVE COMMENT ON ARTICLE
Reader Count & Comments
This article has been read
Read more articles by
or search for other articles by topic below.
Search for articles on: (e.g. creation; holiness etc.)
Read more by clicking on a link:
Main Site Articles
Most Read Articles
Highly Acclaimed Challenge Articles
New Release Christian Books for Free for a Simple Review
NEW - Surprise Me With an Article - Click here for a random URL
God is Not Against You - He Came on an All Out Rescue Mission to Save You
...in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them... 2 Cor 5:19
Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Acts 13:38
LEARN & TRUST JESUS HERE
The opinions expressed by authors do not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
FaithWriters offers Christian reading material for Christian readers. We offer Christian articles, Christian fiction, Christian non-fiction, Christian Bible studies, Christian poems, Christian articles for sale, free use Christian articles, Christian living articles, New Covenant Christian Bible Studies, Christian magazine articles and new Christian articles. We write for Jesus about God, the Bible, salvation, prayer and the word of God.
Link To Us
Become A Member