When I was having my morning devotions I decided not to read the Bible for some reason, but rather to start a new book written by Michael Evans, Director of Jerusalem Prayer Team. The book is based on a prayer of David. I stopped short on page 28 at a very simple statement which I have heard thousands of times, about the sheep and the shepherd. But this morning it struck me like lightning.
I stopped cold and closed my eyes and envisioned a scenario. It was so moving and real to me that I immediately came to my computer, again closed my eyes, and typed the entire thing with eyes closed, as I 're-wound' it in my head. Here it is:
I saw that I was a little white lamb, just a baby lamb.
I was frolicking along, and before I knew it I found myself caught in a sort of patch that had a lot of thorny branches, and as I stepped one foot one way and then another, I found myself surrounded on all sides, above and below, caught in a thicket. No matter which way I tried to turn, there were huge thorns, 10"-12" long. I could move in no direction at all. I was paralyzed with fear and to move in any direction was to encounter a thorn. I couldn't move, not an inch, in any direction, and I began to panic. Even my shaking threatened to bring me into contact with a thorn that would tear into my skin.
But I found my voice, the one thing left to me, and I whimpered with a small bleat, wondering how far away my shepherd was, and afraid he was too far away to hear me. And even if by some miracle he could hear, even he couldn't move me out of this thicket. I was surrounded on all sides, encircled by thousands of thorns. But there was nothing left to do, and in my despair I bleated with a small and hopeless whimper, just in case.
I closed my eyes so as not to see my prison, and was afraid to even sigh, because that small movement would harm me. Everything turned black.
As I sank into the depths and prepared to die, I felt something strong beneath me. Soft, oh so soft, but so strong. My heart skipped, and I opened my eyes and beneath me I saw the huge hand of my shepherd, so soft and so strong. But his hand had a huge scar that ran clear across it. He must have got caught in a thicket, too, I thought. His strong hand lifted me right up through the entire thicket bed, straight up, and somehow even though the thorns were still all there, his hand, with me in it, went straight up through them as if they were only shadows of thorns, and not the real things. As if they were nothing at all.
Above and away from the thorns, I sat in his huge hand and looked up at him, still shaking with fright - and afraid he might be angry with me. But He smiled down at me, oh! so tenderly, and patted me on the head with his other hand. I had really never been up this close to him before, and I was thrilled. I was safe. And he wasn't angry. I could tell that he loved me more than anything.
He tucked me into the hollow of his arm, nestling into his soft white robe, and I relaxed for the first time. My trembling gradually stopped as I snuggled and fidgeted into the crook of his arm and my fear subsided. I took bigger and bigger sighs of relief, no long afraid to sigh, and I was so relieved and comfortable that I fell asleep in his arm as he walked along beside the beautiful green pasture. The tap, tap of his staff as it hit the ground alongside his steady, slow gait lulled me into slumber.
I don't know how long I slept in the hollow of his arm, but I woke up and looked at him, up close, and just watched him. I had never been this close to my shepherd before. He looked down at me and smiled. I felt so ridiculous to have gotten lost that way, but he just smiled and patted me on the head again. I could see that he knew what I was thinking. "Don't worry, my little lamb, even when you think you're lost, you're not. I'm always right here. Always. Have no fear. You belong to me."
He gently sat me down on the dusty path beside him, looked lovingly down at me, took up his rod again, and said, "Just follow me." He set off with long slow strides, and I frolicked along behind, following him down the path by the quiet stream. Relaxed and safe, I looked at all the interesting things on both sides of the path, but was very, very careful not to lose sight of him.
I wanted to stay very close to my shepherd.
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