“…Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep…” -Hebrews 13:20
While scrolling through the notes on my phone the other day, I discovered some scribblings from a couple of years ago. I had loosely composed these words as my 94-year old mother began her journey heavenward and as I struggled to deal with guilt (my go-to point of reference for just about every trial that comes my way). The words I wrote that morning about Jesus our great Shepherd are still words I need to heed.
I’m frequently struck with awe by what I think of as God-ordained convergence—how he orchestrates details of our lives in ways that bring us face-to-face with truths he wants us to grasp
Just last week, I was sharing with my little group of Sunday school students the vivid image of Jesus as the Shepherd and us as his sheep, of the way he calls us to listen to his voice and follow him.
Now today, as my mother declines from a nasty respiratory infection, I’m struggling with my own inner infection and chaos. I’m hyper-aware of my inadequacies and of the ways I’ve been a less-than-perfect advocate. And right into this need, into this tumult, God has sent soul comfort from two sources: the first, words of hope from the author of Hebrews via my pastor and the second, words of wisdom via today’s blogpost from Christie Purifoy.
I had been sharing with my pastor/friend Doug Moore the confirmation I’d received from God about letting go of certain strongholds in another realm of my life, about letting God be God in all his sovereignty, grace, mercy, and love. So in addressing this present trial, my pastor reminded me to trust God in my mom’s circumstances as well. He encouraged me to not only confess legitimate failings but to go a step further and ask for grace to be released from the false guilt that creates so much havoc in my life. He suggested that I meditate on this:
“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” -Hebrews 13:20-21
I just love the way this passage converges with last week’s Sunday school lesson.
• Jesus, the Good Shepherd, cares for my soul, cares enough that he died to save me.
• God equips me to live a life that pleases him while I do my part, that of hearing the Shepherd’s voice and following him.
• And this: The God of peace gives peace to his followers.
As I was beginning to embrace these truths, I came across Christie’s blogpost. Here, after recounting her son’s terrifying allergic reaction at a frozen yogurt shop on a day when she’d forgotten to pack the epi-pen, she shares how she came to a vital realization:
“I felt sad and guilty and shaky, but I was no longer afraid. I understood that I could never keep my son perfectly safe. I understood that life and death are so much bigger than I am. So much bigger than even the love a mother has for her child, and that both, life and death, are held in someone else’s hands.”
These words of Christie’s gave me some much-needed perspective, reminding me that the Shepherd’s love for my mom is far greater than my love for her.
I stand amazed, still, by God’s work of convergence back on that February day in 2016 and here again today as I meditate on what he revealed to me during that time of great trial. A need in the life of someone I love has left me reeling, and once again I need to more actively trust the Shepherd.
Let’s hold on to God’s grace, letting the knowledge of the Good Shepherd’s care for us and for our loved ones, permeate our beings and saturate our souls, giving us courage to face the things we’d really rather avoid. After all, we and the ones we love are in God’s hands, and his hands are ever-so-much stronger and more capable than our own.