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Gentle Shepherd

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock.

In His arms He will gather the lambs,

And carry them in His bosom;

He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

Isaiah 40:11 (NAS)

Sheep do not just take care of themselves as some might suppose. They require, more than any other class of livestock, endless attention and meticulous care. [1]

Is this the reason that we are likened to “sheep” many times in the Bible? We are definitely in the category labeled “high maintenance”–we need endless attention and meticulous care–agree? And when we foolishly try to get these needs met our way, we are usurping the duty of our Shepherd and trying to fill a responsibility that was never intended for us. The shepherd knows exactly what his flock needs, how to meet those needs, how to protect his sheep from the elements and adversaries–he knows how to take care of them.

I love this scripture–it gives us such a tender, loving picture of our Shepherd, Jesus Christ. He tends His flock and gives special attention to the “lambs and the nursing ewes.” Why are those two singled out? You’ll have your own ideas but I would say that the lamb is not old enough to know the basic–and that basic is that you stay close to the Shepherd and He will take care of you. The little lamb is adventurous, unafraid, and ready to meet anything that might spoil his day. Do you relate to that attitude? The nursing ewe is not looking out for herself, she is carefully attending to her baby. She doesn’t even realize the dangers ahead. She is focused on her primary responsibility. She needs extra care because she has her hands full with every day duties. Do you relate to her?

I look back and shake my head in wonder at my total “independence” before I knew that the Shepherd was with me to lead me and care for me. As I say, when I graduated from college, I put on my prettiest dress (one that Mother had made for me–lavender wool), my hat, filled my purse with the “necessities” and with my tennis racket under my arm I strode confidently into the arena of the world. Boy! Did I ever get knocked around! Was the Shepherd near, ready to take over in a breath? Yes. But I was so cocksure’so confident that I could fearlessly face and overcome whatever drifted over onto my path that I didn’t falter. It took many years of failures and hurt for me to look to Him and say, “I can’t handle this–why I ever thought I could is beyond me. Will You please take over?”

Put a face on the Shepherd in our scripture. What do you see? Tenderness, love, care, gentleness, wisdom, availability, understanding. I imagine He is quietly talking to the flock, maybe singing softly to them, making them aware of His presence. Watch as He tends the flock. Is He competent? Is He interested in every one of them–the big ones and the little ones? What does He do when one falters, strays, or is ruthlessly attacked? Think just what kind of a Shepherd we have. Why oh why, do we try to escape Him? Why do we insist on being on our own? Why do we avoid Him? Why are we afraid to be under His watch care’His control?

That’s the answer! The secret word–control! “I want to live my life the way I want to live it and if I make a mistake I have the intelligence and the fortitude to care for myself. I know what I want and how to get it. No –gentle Shepherd–wanted or needed.” My attitude during those years of being in control? “If I can’t do this myself I’m certainly NOT going to ask God to help me!”

I had a lot of deep wounds resulting from doing things “my way.” I cried a lot and became well acquainted with depression. I needed “meticulous” care and would have swooned over just a little loving attention. Eventually I realized the folly of my being in control and I put myself under the Shepherd’s care. That decision has made all the difference. Not that I have blue skies and sunshine all the time. But, I know now that I have Someone watching over me and walking with me when the thunder rolls and the lightening flashes and the wind howls. More than being just “with me,” He lives inside of me to face every second of every day for me–sunshiny days and ominous stormy days. And I let Him–most of the time! Those deep-set patterns of independence–thinking I can handle it–aren’t all gone yet, but we’re working on it–my gentle Shepherd and I.

Could you imagine that He’s talking softly to you–singing maybe–wanting you to be aware of His presence? Remember: He will be as real to you as you will allow Him to be.

Truth: I am a new creature in Christ Jesus and Jesus Christ is my life. I have been given the power through Christ to abandon those old habit patterns and walk as who I now am. Do I allow this Power–the Spirit of Christ living within me–to overcome these old ways? Not consistently I quickly admit. Do I want to allow Him to live through me and be all that He has “recreated” me to be? Oh, yes. And you probably are the same way. Take heart. We’re more like our Gentle Shepherd today than we were yesterday!

[1] Phillip Keller: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.