“I have to get some sleep.”
David rolled over and looked at his friend. In the moonlight he saw the slump of Jeb’s shoulders and knew there were also shadows beneath his eyes. Straightening up from his blanket, David rubbed his hands over his face.
“Jeb we’ve talked about this. Stop worrying about sleeping … try counting the stars or something. Just relax.
Both of the teenagers looked up at the sky. Inky darkness melted across the heavens with shimmering dots of white. David breathed in deeply. Nearby a fat and wooly sheep gave a soft sigh into the night.
David smiled. “See look at Netha. She doesn’t worry about when she sleeps.”
At the sound of David’s voice the old sheep wandered over to him and nuzzled his hand. David reached out and rubbed Netha’s soft coat.
“You and that dumb sheep.” Jeb shook his head and pulled his blanket up over his shoulders.
“I’m just so tired. I need to get some sleep. It’s been four nights now and I’ve slept only a few hours here and there. You don’t understand how this feels.”
David drew his breath in and set his jaw. Turning and facing Jeb he let his words out slowly.
“Jeb there are worse things than not sleeping a few nights.”
If it weren’t so dark on the hillside, David would have seen his friend’s face flush. As it was, even in the cover of darkness, David knew his friend was angry.
“Really David. Well what could be worse than being exhausted every day? Let me guess you are going to tell me I could be sick or have no family or no flock to watch.”
“No. I was going to say you could be missing life by looking at only your sleepless nights.”
“What could I possibly be missing David? Look around us … nothing but sheep and darkness. I want to sleep.”
Jeb got up abruptly and threw his blanket to the ground. David folded his hands together and let his head fall forward. He wished he could think of the right thing to say to Jeb. He wished for peace between him and his friend. He wished …
Movement from the sheep about twenty yards away caught David’s attention. At the same time Jeb turned back and fixed his attention on the same spot. Both of the boys looked puzzled. It was as though there was a stirring in the night. Slowly Jeb walked toward David.
It happened so quickly that neither one could take it in. The split of brilliant light into the night … the angel … the words of “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
Well you know the rest. The boys never did sleep that night. And Jeb never complained again.
Amazing moments can be wrapped in ugly circumstances. No matter what our situation is … let’s not miss the brilliant announcement of a Savior this Christmas!