Heather, Meet Sheep: Part II

She stared at me and I stared back at her.

One woman named Heather…..one sheep named Heather….looking across a farmyard of other creatures and people at one another.015

She was probably thinking about lunch, about the quality of the grass, or the warmth of the day.

You know, sheep things.

I was thinking how appropriate it was to find this woolen sheep named “Heather” at the pumpkin patch.

I needed the reminder, with worries and unknowns, impossibilities, needs, and concerns.  I needed the message that I’m simply a sheep and I need a shepherd.

No, I have a Shepherd, a Good One, One who promises to care for me, to lead me, to bring me to rest, to provide for me, to protect me and even defend me from the attacks of the enemy and my own foolishness.

So, I can be still.  I can stop fretting over what to do and how to do it and just enjoy the grass, the day, the weather, choosing instead to rest and relax and follow along after Jesus.

Seeing our Savior this way, as our Shepherd, promises us so much….


I consider, though, the responsibility.  I’m not only His sheep…I’m a Mama Sheep.  I’ve been entrusted with the care of His lambs, three daughters, one soon-to-be-born son, all looking to this Mama Sheep as she tags along after the Shepherd.

Just like Peter, sitting across a crackling fire on the beach talking with Jesus, I receive this charge: “Feed my lambs”  (John 21:15).

Not just ship them off to church once a week, maybe even twice a week, and hope someone else teaches them the basics about faith, God, and the Bible.  No, that’s my job, and the church is there to partner with me and help me, but never to absolve me of this joy and this responsibility to build into my children’s faith.

In his classic book, Spiritual Parenting, C.H. Spurgeon, teaches me:

First before teaching, you must be fed yourself: The Lord gave him [Peter] a breakfast before giving him a commission. You cannot feed lambs, or sheep either, unless you are fed yourself.

So I start with my own walk, my own growing in the Word, my own prayers, my own time with the Shepherd.

Spurgeon challenges me again:

1. It is careful work. Lambs cannot be fed on anything you please, especially Christ’s lambs. You can soon almost poison your believers with bad teaching. Christ’s lambs are all too apt to eat herbs that are poisonous….Care must be taken in the work of feeding each lamb separately, and the teaching of each child individually the truth that he is able to receive.

2. It is laborious work. With all who teach: they cannot do good without spending themselves… There must be labor if the food is to be wisely placed before the lambs so that they can receive it

3. It is continuous work. Feed my lambs is not for a season, but for all times. Lambs could not live if they were fed once a week. I reckon they will die between Sunday and Sunday. The shepherding of the lambs is daily, hourly work. When is a shepherd’s work over? How many hours a day does he labor? He will tell you that in lambing time, he is never done. He sleeps between times when he can, taking much less than forty winks, then rousing himself for action. It is so with those who feed Christ’s lambs.

It begins to feel so heavy, so overwhelming.

What if I mess up?  Say the wrong thing?  Miss an opportunity?  Sin?  Set a bad example?  Fail to address a character issue?  Fail to point my children to Christ?

Yet, just as my Good Shepherd promises me love, protection, guidance, and care for my needs, He also promises me this:

“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 (Isaiah 40:11)

This unties that one last heavy burden of anxiety and worry off my fluffy sheep shoulders.

God doesn’t just care for me; He cares for my family also.

God leads me, and He does it gently, as I tend to my lambs, the tiny ones He’s entrusted to my care.  Not just that, He scoops up my precious children and holds them close to His very own heart….closer than they can even be to my own beating life-muscle.

They can listen into the heart of the Shepherd, snuggled in close to His chest, kept safe, carried, beloved.

And I can rest knowing that He’ll help me, He’ll teach me, and He’ll show me how to feed these lambs…

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Heather, Meet Sheep: Part I

She stood in the back, penned in on all sides, standing in the tall grass, watching as we passed, fluffy and off-white, round and full, appearing like a tangled mess of cotton balls with black sticks for legs.

The other animals interested my daughters more.  They hovered around the bunny hutch, chasing the rabbits from side to side, squealing over so much cuteness.

We peered into the dark of the pigs’ hut, spotting amidst the piles of hay tiny piglet ears and little piglet eyes that peeked out and then dodged back down for more napping.

The baby goat, calmer than most goats we’ve met, lingered at the fence edge so we could pet him and coo over his sweet friendliness and gentle ways.

At the pumpkin patch that day, we hunted for clues scattered throughout the farm and then unscrambled the letters to decode the hidden message—all for a prize, of course.

The clue took only a second to find, the marveling over the other farm animals took a bit longer, and then off the girls ran to hop onto the wagon for a hayride out to the fields.

But me, I could linger there for a while because amidst hay and signs teaching the kids that male turkeys are called “Tom” and a hen lays one egg a day, was another sign.

That sheep.  The one in the back.  The one that just stood watching us run around like excited suburbanites out in the country for an outing….

That sheep was named Heather.015

Like me.

I snap a picture of the sign, hoping I’ll remember the truth found here at the pumpkin patch.

Heather, the sheep, that’s who I am: the one in need of a Shepherd, the one who is fearful, the one who needs tending and continual leading, the one who can’t find her way to safe pastures or make decisions on her own.

Heather, the sheep who thinks she’s a farm laborer at times, meant to haul burdensome loads on her back, forgetting that sheep aren’t burden-bearing animals.

God didn’t make them to carry the weight or the responsibility, not like the oxen, the horses, the donkeys even.  We’re not meant for hauling around concerns, cares, or worries.

Sometimes we can’t even stand on our own feet all in our own strength.  Our Shepherd doesn’t load our shoulders down with packs and plows; sometimes He hoists us up onto His own strong shoulders and carries us instead.  He bears the burden when we cannot.

In the book, Knowing God by Name: A Girlfriends in God Faith Adventure, I read:

“Sheep don’t come across as stressed-out creatures… Sheep don’t worry about where their next meal is coming from, if they will have a place to sleep each night, when the next enemy or thief will attack, or even what the next day holds.  When sheep are sick or in need, they simply turn to their shepherd, instinctively knowing he or she will take care of and comfort them (p. 125).

They simply turn to the Shepherd, just one swift movement from worry to trust, handing it over to the one who cares for them, never doubting, not for one brief stressful moment, that the Shepherd loves them, cares for them, knows best, and will provide.

We know our Shepherd.

Jesus said:

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11 NASB).

He did this for us, so great a sacrifice for such small creatures, such fearful ones, not the strong or the hardy, but the weak and fearful who are so easily led astray and scattered at the slightest sign of danger.

I read this, too, in Knowing God by Name:

“The needs of sheep, compared to the needs of other animals, are greater because of their instinct to be afraid, and when faced with fearful situations, to run.  Sheep can never be left alone.  They often stray, requiring the shepherd to find and rescue them” (p. 123).

And He does this, too: traipse over wilderness to lead us back, pull us all cowering out of the crevices and corners where we’ve tried to hide away in our terror.  He gives us constant knowinggodbynameattention, eternal love, continual faithfulness.

Yes, He lays down His life for us.  That’s the sacrifice He gave once for all.

But He doesn’t abandon us even now, rescuing us from predators, battling off the enemies that threaten to devour, bringing us back from the places of foolishness we’ve wandered to.

Why should I fear?

Why tug burdens onto shoulders not meant to bear them?

Why plot my own course rather than trust His lead?

Why tremble at enemies when my Shepherd will fight for me?

I’m a sheep, so simple, so weak, so well-cared for.

That’s what a sign on a post at the pumpkin patch reminds me.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 05/26/2012: Memorial Day Memory Verse

Our church sponsors a Boy Scout troop and many of my friends have sons who participate, so this Memorial Day weekend has taken on a new significance for me recently.

On the Saturday before the holiday each year, my Facebook wall fills with pictures of families placing small American flags on the graves of soldiers throughout cemeteries in our county.  They call this event Flags for Vets and even just from the pictures, I love it.  I love how families are teaching their sons to value service, sacrifice, and bravery.

At first it seems a little unselfish for busy families at the hectic end of the school year, who are likely buried under a calendar packed full of graduations and parties, to take a Saturday morning to honor those who have died.  Maybe it’s hot.  Maybe they missed out on other activities in order to participate.

And yet, considering the sacrifice these soldiers made—to fight and serve our country’s armed forces in order to defend us—then surely the setting aside of a Saturday morning and walking among headstones and grave plots to place a flag doesn’t seem like much too give in return.

Is it really much different in our service of Christ?  How easy it is to feel sometimes like the sacrifices we make for Him should merit something.  We feel a little proud of ourselves perhaps when we reject sin or give up something we want so we can give to another or set aside a Saturday morning to serve our community and minister to the least of these.

But Christ gave everything for us, His very life laid down in painful sacrifice so we could be free from the inevitability of hell and the prison of sin.

Thus, my verse for the week focuses on Jesus’ sacrifice for us and reminds us to love others in return.  It seems a fitting way to remember the responsibility we bear in order to honor the service of others.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  Ephesians 5:2

Weekend Rerun:

Marco Polo

Originally posted on February 24, 2011


My house really isn’t that big, so it’s a little surprising that my daughters can lose me in it.  And yet, it happens.  I’ll be in the room with my youngest daughter and then I leave to switch over the laundry or put something away in another room.  It’s not long before I hear the shuffle of her feet as she quickly searches for me in one room and then the next.

She doesn’t search long before she assumes the worst–that I’ve abandoned her and left her all alone in the house.  I can tell just by the sound of her voice that she’s standing at the back door and crying for me.

Of course, I would never abandon her.  So, I call out her name as loudly as I can, reassuring her that I’m still here.  Her crying pauses as she listens closely to my call.  Then after just a few seconds of this “Mommy Marco Polo,” she follows the sound of my voice to the one room she didn’t think to look in.  When she sees me, her face lights up for a moment and then she falls into my arms, crying for just a few seconds more as if to tell me how frightening it was to lose sight of me.

Sometimes in the everyday busyness and chaos of life, we can lose sight of God.  We are walking with Him and suddenly we notice that He’s taken another path, and we’re no longer by His side.  Maybe a life crisis or tragedy interrupts our communion with Him and we can’t seem to find God through the darkness we’re in.

It’s so comforting to me that God never really abandons us.  He doesn’t head out the door of our hearts and leave us all alone.   God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV) and  Brother Lawrence wrote, “You need not cry very loud; He is nearer to us than we think.”

Just like my daughter finds me as I call to her, we can also follow God’s voice to safety and reunion with Him and His purposes for us.

John 10:3- says:

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice.  He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

Sometimes our Shepherd opens the gate and calls out our name so that we’ll follow Him to a new place.  At first, we may think we’ve been abandoned when we no longer see our Shepherd by our side.  But, He’s simply leading us out and He’s issuing a truly personal call for us to join Him.

He knows you, His precious sheep, and He has called you by your name.  God not only loves the whole world, He loves you.  He not only died for everyone, He died for you.  He not only has the whole world in His hands, He has your world in His hands.

Because of His personal care for us, we don’t have to fear abandonment.  We don’t have to fear any circumstance in our life, any tragedy, any deficit, anything new, anything from our past.  God tells us, “Fear not, I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

So, how do we succeed in this “Spiritual Marco Polo?”–this search for God in the dark places of life?  We know His voice from the time we’ve spent with Him, so even when we cannot see Him at work in our lives, we can hear His call.

This takes effort on our part.  It is a discipline to make time in our busy, fast-paced lives to focus on our Savior.  A.W. Tozer wrote, “God has not bowed to our nervous haste nor embraced the methods of our machine age.  It is well that we accept the hard truth now: The man who would know God must give time to Him!  He must count no time wasted which is spent in the cultivation of His acquaintance.”

We might grow in our faith a little when we listen to Christian speakers or read Christian books or take notes on the sermon on Sunday mornings, but only time spent in God’s presence, meditating on His Word to us in the Bible, really teaches us the sound of His voice.

We can argue that we’re too busy to study the Bible.  Our work schedule is too hectic to allow for significant time in prayer.  Our kids are too loud for us to spend any time in meditation.  Yet, the time to learn the Shepherd’s voice is before darkness.   Then, when we cannot see His face, we can still distinguish His voice and respond to His call.


Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 09/17/2011

Hiding the Word:

In my personal devotionals this week, I read Psalm 23—“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”

The danger of familiarity is complacency.  We become insensitive to the wonder of Scriptures that we hear and read all the time.

But I was struck anew by this powerful thought in this oft-quoted verse—“I shall not want,” not because I have a shepherd.  No, it’s because of who my Shepherd is—The Lord.  I have the best, most compassionate and capable Shepherd of all. It is because of His character that I never need to fear or worry or fret over provision and safety.

In her book, Stumbling Into Grace, Lisa Harper talks about Luke 12:22-32, where Jesus instructs us not to worry about what we’ll eat or wear because He takes care of the birds and the lilies of the field.  He loves us ever so much more than them and will care for our every need, as well.

At the end of that passage, Jesus says,

But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
Luke 12:31-32

Lisa Harper notes that Luke’s “use of the term little flock in verse 32 is so unique that this is the only place it can be found in the entire Bible” (p. 10).

Once again, it is the fact that we are such beloved sheep of such a Good Shepherd that calms my heart and gives me peace when I am afraid. And so, this is the verse I have chosen to meditate on this week.  I’ll write it on index cards, post it around my house, and remind myself all week long of how much my Shepherd loves me.

For more thoughts on the way we sheep can trust in our Shepherd, please check out my article: Living the Sheep’s Life: Choosing Grace Over the Law.

What verse are you meditating on this week?

Book Review:

Waiting on God and being persistent in prayer—not the two easiest disciplines of the Christian walk.  But, John I. Snyder addresses both in his book: Your 100 Day Prayer: The Transforming Power of Actively Waiting on GodEach day’s entry begins with a verse and thoughtful devotional and concludes with an opportunity to pray.  The goal is to take a specific prayer request to God every day for 100 days.

Snyder’s book not only gives you verses and prayer prompts, but his daily devotionals are well-thought out and challenging.  This is more than a fluffy feel-good devotional.  Instead, it is an impassioned look at God’s character and what it means to pray with persistence.  He deals with difficult topics, such as “When God Says No” and “The Silent Heaven,” with insight and wisdom.

The author himself says, “This sustained, stubborn, never-give-up spirit of prayer is not so much to persuade God to give us what we want, but rather to transform us in the process.” His book could help transform and enliven your prayer life, as well as spur you on to greater spiritual maturity as you engage in the daily disciplines of Bible reading and meditation, prayer and journaling.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King