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.
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