Home was a stone and mud-brick house on a hill overlooking Bethlehem. We were a shepherd family, and I was the youngest of five brothers. We were poor, life was hard, and Roman taxes didn’t make it any easier. But despite the hardships, we never lost faith in the one true God or His promise of a coming Messiah.
One day tragedy struck. A fire broke out in our house. I was only seven at the time, and since my father and brothers were out in the fields with the sheep, the fire spread faster than my mother could put it out. As I tried to run outside, a blazing door fell on me. My mother pulled me out, but my face was badly burned and I couldn’t see. In time the burns healed, but I remained blind.
I felt hopeless and useless. I sat for hours, staring into the darkness and asking God why He had let this happen to me.
My mother tried to encourage me by finding little things that I could do, and sometimes my brothers took me to the fields with them. Somehow I felt closer to God out there, like He was the shepherd and I was one of His sheep, having to be led everywhere.
Five years after my accident, the most wonderful thing happened. We were at my favorite spot when the sun began to set. My brothers described it to me—every color and cloud, the exquisite whirling and swirling that sent iridescent streaks across the sky.
Then it was over. Night covered the earth as the darkness covered me. After the sheep were settled for the night but before we had gone to sleep, suddenly a light shone all around us—a light so bright that even I could sense it.
“What is it?” I cried.
“We don’t know,” my brothers answered. I could tell by the tone of their voices that they were frightened.
Then there came a beautiful voice—a voice that seemed to emanate peace. “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.” Only angels could speak like that! “For unto you is born in the city of David the Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
Then everyone gasped as a sudden burst of light even brighter than the first filled the night sky, and we heard a multitude of the heavenly host praising God. “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth to men of good will!” It was magnificent! The glory and power of God was in their voices! Then, as suddenly as they had come, they were gone.
It was several minutes before anyone uttered a word. My father broke the silence. “Our Savior is born, and our God has seen fit to declare to us the good news! Come! Let us go to Bethlehem to see the babe the angels told us of!”
Amos said he would stay with the sheep. It was his watch anyway.
“Can he stay with you?” father asked. I knew they were talking about me.
The sound of their footsteps faded as father and the others rounded the first bend down the path. Amos and I moved closer to the campfire.
“Tell me again about the angels, Amos.” My mind was racing. Our people had waited so many years for the coming of the Messiah. How I wished I could have gone with them, but what use would that have been? I lamented that I would never see the Savior.
When I awoke the next morning, the sun had warmed my face but the same sadness filled my heart. Then I heard excited voices coming up the path—shouts of praise. Someone called out my name.
“Did you see Him? Did you see the Savior?”
“Yes!” they all called out in unison.
“We found Him just as the angel said we would,” my father said. “It was just a stable, no better than ours, but it was filled with the most wonderful presence. Surely it was the Spirit of the living God. We were overwhelmed with joy and awe, and fell to our knees and worshiped Him.”
“His name is Jesus,” my oldest brother said, “and it was just as Father said. I’ve never felt like this before!” Although I could not see my brother’s happy face, I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was changed.
As we started toward home, that name kept repeating in my mind. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
Many more years passed before exciting news came from Galilee. A new prophet was teaching about the kingdom of God. Multitudes followed Him—and His name was Jesus. Could it be the same Jesus—the one the angels had told us of 30 years earlier? I wanted so badly for it to be Him, and I wanted so badly to be with Him!
Some months later, one day when I was in Bethlehem with my mother, I heard shouts and the sound of people running past me. A great crowd was gathering at the end of the street.
“What is it?” I called out. “What’s happening?”
“Out of the way, blind man!” Hands that matched that rough voice pushed me to the wall. “The prophet is coming through, Jesus of Nazareth!”
Could it really be Him? “Jesus! Jesus!” My cries were drowned out by all the other commotion. “JESUS! JESUS!” I cried all the louder.
Then suddenly everyone stopped yelling and shoving. What was happening now? “JESUS!” I called once more in desperation.
The next voice came from right in front of me—a voice filled with love and sympathy. “Yes. What do you want Me to do for you?”
“My Lord!” I lifted my head in amazement. “I wish that my eyes were healed, that I might see!”
A wonderful feeling came over my entire body as Jesus placed His hands over my eyes and prayed to His Father in Heaven. “Let them be healed.”
Even before I opened my eyes, I knew I was healed. A beautiful feeling of peace and love overwhelmed me. All the sadness, all hopelessness, all the fears of all those years were washed away in that instant. I fell to my knees before Him and looked up—up into the loving face of my Lord and Savior.
Story and art courtesy of Activated magazine. Used by permission.