Sunday, June 9, 2013

Who's Minding the Children?

When He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them,
 for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:36

I've been pondering sheep lately, particularly as relates to the metaphorical title of God's children.

I know, I know, I can hear your deep sigh, Not another sheep analogy!  My apologies, but...

I understand sheep to be rather stupid animals. Apparently, they wander off a lot. And left to their own, will walk right into harms way, eat toxic vegetation, and are actually so timid will stare at moving water and die of thirst before bending the knee for a drink.

"The ONLY sure protection for the sheep is the ever-watchful shepherd."*

Without a Shepherd, sheep die.

For He is our God, 
And we are the people of his pasture,
the sheep of His hand.
Psalms 95:7

SO, who's minding the children, err, sheep? 

Of course God is ALWAYS tending his children, in fact scripture says he actually pursues us, even if we refuse him!
I have learned a new word this week-Radaph. That's hebrew for pursue, literally- meaning to hunt down. Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.    psalms 23:6
"When I'm hurting, His grace hunts for me. When I'm plagued by problems, His goodness pursues me. No matter where I go, goodness and mercy are in hot pursuit of me. "**

We were never promised this life would be easy. As long as we walk this planet, persecution will be part of the package.
But sheep that recognize their shepherd are promised His eternal eye and care. So while we might, and probably will, be harassed, we aren't left without help.  

I understand harassment.

He would typically arrive around 3:00 in the morning, just moments after my husband left for base. 

We were newly married, living on a military income,  enthralled with our new life, and our first home--  a tiny, one bedroom duplex in Ft. Lawton, Oklahoma. It was sparsely furnished,  decorated only with  young love that envisioned a life time of bliss ahead. It was our castle.

Until 3:00 am rolled around, that is.  

I learned to expect his visit-- would lie paralyzed with fear on my bed, waiting.
I knew he had come again when I saw his shadow on the shades, and heard his heavy breathing outside my bedroom window.
With no phone, we were too poor, and no weapon but a butter knife, I listened for agonizing minutes as he attempted to pry the front door open. Or the window air-conditioner. Or the back screen door. He was relentless. He harassed me and made my life a stalking nightmare EVERY morning for 3 months. 

There is only one safe place for us in this world, and that is in The Lord.  The Lordour true pasture
Outside the flock, we are helpless.

I was harassed. But I wasn't helpless. I was a sheep with a shepherd. And I was safe in His care.

I lift up my eyes to the hills--where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2

*Swindoll, chuck. Living the Psalms.
** Ann Voskamp, A holy experience

 Jeremiah 50:7