There once was a shepherd that loved and cared for his flock.
He worked day and night caring for his sheep. At times, he would be far from his own family because he was tending to the sheep that he loved so dearly.
He found the greenest pastures and stillest streams to refresh the sheep. The sheep ate and drank in deeply what the shepherd provided. They seemed to love it when he would scratch their backs and speak soothingly to them. They loved that he would praise them and, at times, talk or sing to them.
Many times, he would sit up long hours with them as they labored bearing their young, or as they mourned the loss of a member of the flock. Other times, he sat with them and prayed with them as they dealt with hard trials or sickness.
He brought them into the fold each week, counting their heads to be sure that none had gone astray. He anointed each one with wounds and removed any thorns that had embedded themselves in the sheep’s flesh.
And yes, there were times he would reprimand them if they went astray. He did all that he could do to keep them on the narrow way. Oh, how his heart broke if even one would get out of reach or fall too far from his care for he had such great compassion for each one.
But there were a few rams that did not like his corrections. They wanted to do things their own way. So they rose up against the shepherd convincing other sheep that he was not a good shepherd. They surrounded him and overpowered him. Finally, they forced him from the fold where others might defend him. Then the goats began to rough him up with head butts. They trampled him with the sharp hooves.
“We don’t want you here!” they bleated. “go away and never come back.”
The shepherd lay still for a while but none of the other sheep came to his rescue. None came to lick his wounds or comfort him in his pain. They went about chewing their grass and playing in the nearby pastures.
“Why?” wondered the shepherd, “did they not come and check on him?” “Why, did they seem to not care that about his wounds?”
Perhaps, they did not see that he was injured for sheep are dumb that way.
The Shepherd wondered what he should do. Should he make a fuss and complain? Or should he just go quietly?
He was tempted to scream it out and tell everyone how he had been treated so unfairly. Some people told him that he should. But he loved the sheep so much and he didn’t want to hurt them in return. So he decided he would just go quietly.
Finding a refuge
Finally, the shepherd dragged himself out of the burning sun to a bit of shelter but he had no place to lay his head. The goats had blocked the gate of the sheepfold and told him never to return.
His wounds were deep and his heart was crushed for he really did love the sheep in his fold. He had been their shepherd for many years. The thought that sheep could be so hateful cut him to the core. If he had been mauled by a lion or a bear, it would have been easier to bear. But these wounds caused great pain and tenderness because they came from the very ones that he had lived with and cared for and loved so dearly.
Even though it was the only life he knew, he wondered how he would ever care for another flock again. All he knew was right now, he felt no desire to ever shepherd again. The tenderness of his heart caused him to pull within himself. The pain went deep into the depths of his soul. He really wondered if he could ever even breathe again without feeling the pain.
The Shepherd felt so utterly alone, but the Master of all the sheep learned of his demise and began to work on his behalf. The Master knows best how to heal the wounds and hurts of the world for he too had suffered the same kind of pain. It would take some time but the Master could make everything new again.
Hope for the Future
For now, it was time to receive the care of the Master. Since the wounds were so deep and his heart was so tender, it would take much time and rest to recover. The Master would soon send caregivers and healers to apply the salve and gently bring him back to wholeness.
The Master took him to a place of rest and provided for his needs. As is common, the healing was slow and painful. But he knew that the Master had his best in mind. The shepherd needed to learn to trust again. These types of wounds take much time to heal. He could not return to work because the pain might cause him to wound others. He needed the healing balm of the Master.
Before long, the shepherd would be stronger than ever and able to return to a sheepfold and care for a new flock. He would become an even better shepherd than he was before because the Master would take this time to develop stronger character and deeper wisdom in the shepherd.
In the end, the Master would reward the shepherd for his diligence. But for now, the shepherd must rest.
Do you know this shepherd?
You may know one of God’s servants who is suffering in a similar situation. Can I ask you to reach out to him/her/them? He may need to hear your say how his ministry was a help to you. He may need a place to live or some groceries. Find out how you can be a blessing.
Possibly, you are that shepherd.
I’m here to tell you that you are one of God’s chosen ones and he has not forgotten you. Take advantage of this time to draw close to Him. He has something he wants to tell you.
In the meantime, I have started a facebook group for such a time as this. This will be a place of refuge where you will find others in this dark place. It will be a place of rest and encouragement for one another. Come join us at Joy in the Wilderness.