Shepherding; December 5, 2017

Isaiah 40:11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

The Bible gives us many word pictures of God, but none are more gentle and comforting than this. When so few people have direct interaction with sheep these days this doesn’t necessarily click, but when understood, it is powerful. To a degree we tend to reject the image of being sheep, because of their herd instincts and general lack of intelligence, but in very many ways the comparison is apt. We too are not up to many of the challenges of life, and we too are easily influenced by those around us who don’t know any better than we do. However, the picture here is of Christ meeting us where and as we are, doing what is called for to compensate for our weaknesses. That should be comforting indeed.

My personal reaction to this verse is complex. I am acutely aware of my own inability at times, my “sheep-likeness,” but at the same time, I am called and appointed as a shepherd of God’s flock here. I am to interact with those in my care the way Christ interacts with me, but at the same time realize that I can’t possibly do it right, and so allow Him to do it through me. At the very point I want Him to hold me in His arms, I am called to hold another sheep. I’ve got to trust Him enough to let go of my insecurities so that they won’t get in the way of what He wants to do through me. As long as I am focused on my needs I won’t be able to appropriate His supply, either for myself or for those to whom I minister. Yesterday in my walking I had first a dog and then a cat decide that they wanted nothing better than to be with me. The dog was on a leash with its owner, so separation was not so difficult, but the cat was a stray, as far as I could tell, and at one point was so under foot that I stepped on it. Even so, it didn’t want to abandon me. I managed to get away by walking very quickly, but when I came back through it was more than ready for me again. God wants to hold me the way I held that cat, and through me to hold those to whom I minister. I’m not to focus on my ability, which is inability, but on His, because that is more than up to the task.

Father, thank You for this Word this morning. My sense of task overload is acute at times, tempting me to resentment. Help me recognize what You do and don’t want me to do and act accordingly, allowing You both to carry me and to carry others through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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