My Shepherd in the Unknown

I am bound to live in simple dependence upon God, who sends just enough manna for each day, but no more. If I am in any dilemma, if I am in any difficulty, if I do not know which way I should take, had I not better go and tell my Heavenly Father so, and ask him to direct me?

Charles Spurgeon

My Shepherd stands guard over me, keeping his eyes open and his staff at the ready. I am not the only one dwelling under His protective gaze. Many others like me owe Him our eternal lives. We are all types of sheep of different shapes, backgrounds, ages, colors, and sizes living together under His grace and mercy.

I was brought into this fold by the Shepherd when I was very young. My parents taught me much about our Shepherd; holy and divine. They shared with me the message and gospel; the Good news of our Good Shepherd. Despite humanity’s total depravity, the Good Shepherd spilled His precious blood to deliver us from the wrath of God. I learned much about Him and truly believed in Him. What precious faith and love He had given to one as young as I!

I have learned much of my Shepherd from His Word. Through the teachings of the Scriptures, I learned about Him and grew in my love for Him. He dwells at the Father’s right hand yet intercedes on every sheep’s behalf. He reigns and rules over the universe but knows even when the sparrow passes by. My Shepherd is not to be trifled with; He will zealously protect. He is righteous and holy and willingly bestows grace and mercy on the lowly.

I have learned much of my Shepherd from His other sheep. They have told me about His love and kindness and mercy in bringing them to His pen—stories and anecdotes and tales of our Shepherd’s character and attributes. Constant praise and rejoicing resounded from their lips, but I was always saddened that my salvation was uninteresting by comparison. My entire recollection was being within the pen of the Shepherd, not without. In contrast, I considered my testimony to be quite boring. Much to my surprise, my gracious fellow Christians would encourage me with their wise ways at my young age.  In synopsis, they would say, “No salvation given by the Shepherd is less significant than another, and we are thankful that you were preserved from the life outside of the pen. Further, a testimony such as yours we would rather have because we would never have fallen into the depths of our great sins.” How joyous that my salvation is precious and no better nor worse than any sheep before or after. My sin, your sin, our sin, covered by the blood of the beloved Shepherd standing guard at the door. My love for Him grew more and more.

I have learned much of my Shepherd as He shaped and molded in me the desire for pastoral ministry. The greatness of my God and Shepherd-King knows no compare, and I wanted to know and love Him all the more.  Not just for myself but others too. I longed to preach and teach about my Shepherd so that others may love Him as I do. The Shepherd was quick to show that shepherding was no easy task. Late nights of prayer and intercession just before the next counseling session, chasing after wayward sheep who had left the safety of the pen while still studying and praying in preaching preparation.   But nothing would keep me from my charge for my Shepherd as I learned from the Apostle Paul, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”

I have learned much of my Shepherd, that I have no other Shepherd but Him. Though I may suffer from an incurable malady, my Shepherd bent down to me, and He gave me His Word to lift, encourage, and comfort me. In my time of loneliness, he said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I listened carefully to these words I’ve always known. Yet, now they were solidified in my soul rather than training for the day of trouble. He reminded me of what He’s told many of my fellow sheep before, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” I listened and brought Him my troubles.

I brought to Him my cries, my anxiety, my anger, and my pain. I had never been angry at my Shepherd before, but this suffering seemed meaningless. What did He have in store? Would I see my wife and son once more? Question upon question, moment upon moment, frustration upon frustration, but His gentleness never left me and His Words stored up for this day brought me peace. My Shepherd brought me comfort through His Word from the mouth of sheep who had gone before and one I had heard and studied many times, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Despite my malady bringing me close to death, I had never left the safety of my dear Shepherd. I was safe and secure in His mighty fold. By faith, I rest in my Shepherd, He is my Shepherd, and I shall not want.

I have learned much of my Shepherd, that I depend on Him in the unknown. Moment by moment, breath by breath, and day by day, He is my loving Shepherd, and I love my Shepherd. I do not toil in my strength but in the power that my Shepherd provides, and my love for Him continues to grow. Life will bring suffering, trials, and affliction, but I will happily follow my Shepherd through the unknown, for He knows the way, and there is no one better than Him. My path before me is certain because my Shepherd leads the way; therefore, I pick up my cross and follow Him all the way.

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