Abandoned to the Shepherd’s Care
By MANDY SAELER
The countryside lay quietly under the thick darkness of the midnight sky. Thousands of stars gleamed through the pinpricked shadowy curtain, hinting at the morning light soon to follow. A few sparse trees and shrubs dotted the hillside where sheep huddled together. And there, in the solace of night, a flock rested under the knowing gaze of their shepherd.
It was simply another night to be followed by yet another day in the familiar life of the shepherd and his sheep: grazing in pastures and watering in pools by day, and resting under the cool canopy of
In the tender 23rd Psalm penned by David, he depicts his God as being a shepherd. From his own years of shepherding flocks of sheep as a young man, David would have been well-acquainted with the essential roles of a shepherd: service, sacrifice, protection, and care. The vitality of his flock was a shepherd’s primary concern, and the well-being of the sheep
In his God, David beheld a loving and loyal protector. And in himself, David saw a likeness to a sheep which was very much in need of an attentive overseer.
The likenesses between a shepherd and his sheep, and God and His
The truth of what God is conveying through this imagery in Scripture is beautiful and deeply comforting: He has charged Himself with the tender care, keeping, and leading of you, His own precious possession.
Sheep in His Pasture
As children of God — sheep in the Good Shepherd’s fold — what a truly wonderful life of peace and provision, comfort and joy, gladness and grace is ours under His care. What a wonder it is that He so tenderly cares for His own! If only we will truly entrust ourselves to Him and believe that He is a good Shepherd, allowing Him to reveal Himself as such in our lives … how quickly our fitful discomfort and reeling anxiety will be put away. Whether we are led into parched ravines or lush greens, we can safely trust the heart of our Shepherd knowing that even there He is present and His hand shall lead us. (See Psalm 23:4.)
May I present a simple truth to you, friend? The life we’ve been given is “the wonderful life.” With the Lord as our own faithful Shepherd, we have no want of anything.
If I may, I would love to share three invaluable gems of grace that my Shepherd has given to me. Whether in pastures past or present, embracing these treasures of wisdom has brought life, encouragement, endurance, and heavenly perspective to my heart.
Though I still have much to ascertain in “life as a lamb,” I have tasted the comfort and joy of traversing the pastures with my Shepherd, learning to ever-trust His heart and abandon myself to His care. As I’ve journeyed with Him in this way, I’ve watched as plain pastures have been transformed by the touch of Heaven into open fields of grace… and I pray the same for you.
Gem No. 1 — Stay Close to the Shepherd
As I’ve sifted through the pages of numerous Christian biographies over the years, I’ve noted a correlation time and time again in the old missionary stories: each and every one of these believers understood the essentiality of drawing near to God and cultivating their personal relationship with Him.
Whether in mundane seasons, times of fruitfulness, or extreme hardship, their abiding relationship with the Lord was their strength and vitality in the pasture He led them into. He Himself was their sustenance, strength, and stay. He Himself was their provision, pleasure, and peace.
This, my friend, demonstrates Christianity at its simplest and finest.
I recently attended a large gathering for Christian women. At one point, the audience was asked to respond by standing if their daily time of meeting with the Lord was found wanting. As many, many women rose to their feet, the speaker shared that such a response was typical, where 80–90% of women acknowledge their need to intentionally draw near to God on a regular basis.
Dear sister, may our hearts embrace this essential truth: staying close to the Shepherd — knowing Him and abiding with Him — is the most important thing in our lives. Jesus, Himself, is our life. (See Colossians 3:4.) May we be women who, in every season, are found at the feet of our Shepherd feasting on His Word.
Gem No. 2 — Trust His Nature
I once heard a pastor share about an experience he’d had on the farm he tended at his home. The day came when he had to perform a minor surgical operation to remove a parasite infestation from one of his sheep. Unrestful and anxious, the sheep wriggled and fought against him as he braced the animal and carefully removed the parasite. His desire wasn’t to inflict misery upon the sheep, though it was certainly painful
Left untended, this particular parasite was known to itch incessantly, driving the sheep mad and causing them to violently drive their head into the ground and walls in an attempt to find relief. Eventually, the parasite would infect the brain at the cost of the sheep’s life, that is, if the sheep didn’t first destroy itself. The shepherd knew what the sheep had no way of knowing — and thus, his scalpel was wielded in goodness and mercy.
A good shepherd tends to His sheep with the truest care, just as the pastor-shepherd did in this story. He superintended with wise oversight and kind intentions for the welfare of his sheep.
If this is true of an earthly shepherd, how much more perfectly so with our Heavenly Overseer?
Friend, His methods are sublime. Even when we don’t understand, we can be assured of His sovereignty and wisdom, and His tender heart of care for His children as we look into His Word. But we must be faithful to draw near to Him and open the Book wherein He has shared His nature with us. Then, and only then, can our hearts be found stayed upon the truth of His Word and all that it reveals of His heart.
Gem No. 3 — Abandon Yourself to His Care
For each one of us, the Lord assigns a portion
Who is it that is your Shepherd? The Lord! Oh, my friends, what a wonderful announcement! The Lord God of heaven and earth, the almighty Creator of all things, He who holds the universe in His hands as though it were a very little thing — HE is your Shepherd … If your hearts could really take in this thought, you would never have a fear or
Dear Sister, may our humble, woolly lives demonstrate to all the world what a truly good Shepherd He is.
While out in the fields…
The Bethlehem countryside lay quietly under the thick darkness of the midnight sky. The thousands of stars that gleamed through the pinpricked shadowy curtain seemed to hint at the coming Light of the World. The flocks huddled together in the solace of night, resting under the knowing gaze of their shepherds. When suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood before them and proclaimed, “Do not be afraid … I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:10–11). And then, the veil of the nighttime was torn as a multitude of the heavenly host broke forth, praising God!
The best news ever was angelically proclaimed on a humble countryside scene amid shepherds and their sheep! Is it any coincidence that the scene where the Good Tidings of Heaven were proclaimed mirrors the setting of the 23rd Psalm?
I think not … only a holy, heavenly providence.
The Lamb of God arrived as the shining expression of the Heavenly Shepherd’s love!
Harmony with God would be restored — what comfort and joy! And the glorious Gospel would unfurl in the years that would follow … the glorious Gospel we know and cherish today!
Yesterday, today, and forever, the Good Tidings heralded on that starlit night in Bethlehem are ever our hope and our song. “Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day … O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy!” May our lives daily be a declaration and celebration of these Good Tidings, giving glory to God in the highest!