Shepherd of Love
One of my special girlfriends lives in Jerusalem. The threat of
war, suicide bombings and unabated violence and hatred demand from her an extraordinary measure of faith in God. She shared this precious faith experience with me one day.
I have discovered a lot about myself. God has helped me through anger, shame, guilt and fear. As of today, I have received a major victory in each of these areas. I have a strange sense of God’s peace and protection that I can’t explain. I truly believe God has brought me to total trust and faith. This is something I have never had before. My life was controlled by feelings and not by faith. My past behavior was based on nothing but feelings. However, now I know a deep abiding faith that is based on trust.
This hasn’t been an easy path but one of learning and adventure. I want to share an experience of a lady in my monthly prayer group. She lives on the border of Bethlehem, which has had some heavy fighting during the last several years. One night she looked out over the valley and heard gunfire and explosions. When she glanced down into the valley from her apartment window, she saw a shepherd calmly tending his sheep. With tears in her eyes she said, “you could see he was talking to his sheep; and every time the gunfire would sound, the alarmed sheep would scatter.” What happened next was the beginning of the life change for me.
My Israeli friend said that as the sheep scattered, the shepherd would simply take his staff and lightly touch each sheep and they would once again come into the fold. Our group began to weep. I read aloud from the 23rd Psalm, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou are with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
This is a beautiful picture of God’s comforting peace in the time of storm. He is the Good Shepherd. He is the one who has promised to prepare a table before us in the presence of our enemies. Our loving Father is the one who has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. He is the shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep. What a consolation!
Interestingly, my friend’s story took place in Bethlehem, where David, the shepherd boy was quite familiar with sheep, since they were his trade. He later described the journey of Moses and the children of Israel with these words: “But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. And he led them on safely, so that they feared not” (Ps. 78:52-53, KJV). Whatever you are facing today, you have no reason to fear, for your Good Shepherd will gently direct your path.
Every shepherd knows his sheep by name. Notice that when the sheep began to stray from fear and distractions, the shepherd would tap them on their backs and no doubt speak their names, thus getting their attention. Once he diverted their attention from wandering, they would return to the fold. Believe it or not, even when we are fearful or distracted, Jesus is near to calm us with His gentle touch. If there is upheavel in your life today it is proof positive that the Good Shepherd is gently handling your life; the Potter’s tender hands are shaping you into the image of Christ! In The Message, Eugene Peterson writes in Romans 8:
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, eh stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.
The Lord is shepherding you today. Fears may rise up, discouragement might overtake your heart and trouble might cause you concern; but the Good Shepherd is always near to keep you close to the fold. Come close to Jesus right now, won’t you?