I love to lie on my porch swing and sway in a wide arc. I relish feeling my stomach drop a little with each deep back — and forth. But tonight the crickets are humming to me. And my swing is rocking slowly, slightly. The barest hint of a breeze kisses my skin. I feel warm and comforted from the very depths.
“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs into his arms; he will carry them in his bosom…” Isaiah 40:11
I am learning the nature of the true Shepherd. Which is humbling, because in almost 20 years of following Him, I thought I knew Him well. The truth I’m discovering is that I’d been independent from Him, foolishly following and helplessly dependent on the flock rather than the Shepherd Himself.
So I separated from the flock.
I had no choice. I couldn’t any longer distinguish His voice from the bleating around me and the cries from my own mouth. I was overwhelmed and terrified by my inability to hear the clear voice of the Shepherd. Each time I thought I heard Him, I questioned the flock, “Did you hear that too?” and compared it against their cries. I only obeyed if they went with me.
In my panic to escape I tripped and stumbled on every lie in my path, believing I would never again hear the voice of the true Shepherd while distanced from the flock. Some of the lies were spoken over me as I ran, and some were offered up by the enemy of my soul who I’d disregarded for so long I was taking credit for his deceptions as my iniquity. I believed the Shepherd would not pursue me. I was labeled rebellious, a heretic, discordant, immature, and emotional. What would the Shepherd want with me?
I grew up hearing the story of the Good Shepherd and never imagined myself becoming the wounded stray. I believed I was alone and felt so lost. I still craved His voice, but I didn’t trust myself to hear it clearly. I suppose that’s why He let me out into the wilderness before He came after me.
And He most certainly came after me.
In spite of the lies I believed, the Good Shepherd sought me out in a place I never would have believed He still inhabited. And there He sang over me, rejoicing over me and gathered me to Himself. His banner over me is love that I’d wholly forgotten existed.
I am only just learning to trust that I know His voice. This moment on my porch swing encompasses His embrace. If I listen just a bit more I will soon hear the heartbeat of the Shepherd. I am invited to tuck my head against His chest. His breath is in the breezes. The rhythms of His voice are echoed in the leaves, crickets and frogs. Distant thunder rumbles His strength.
Here the Shepherd is present. I am the lamb gathered in His arms and He carries me in His bosom.
Have you ever experienced a moment where you’ve felt His presence so poignantly? Share it with me.