I am going to do this thing that I've known others to do recently and that is to pick one single word to be my 'theme' for the year. I frequently shy away from bandwagons but this one sorta picked me, so I thought I'd go with it.
The Sunday before Christmas was our last week teaching the Middle School class at church. This man that I don't know, on a DVD clip we were watching, read this passage in Isaiah about the LORD as shepherd.
Isaiah 40:11--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.
It was really the part about him gently leading those that have young that spoke directly to me. I have young. He is always gentle with me. Really. Always. He deals with me, make no mistake. But he is gentle.
The man on the DVD (really should find out his name) went on to describe some of the ways that shepherds lead. In the UK, the shepherds use sheep dogs (think Babe--love that movie) to 'herd' them where they want to go. But apparently in the Middle East it isn't (or wasn't) like that. Shepherds live with their sheep. They keep them safe at night by laying their bodies down in the opening of the pen (becoming the gate, like Jesus also uses to describe himself) The sheep of Middle Eastern shepherds follow them because they know what the voice of their shepherd sounds like.
More and more I do see myself as a shepherd. Yes, I have a small flock--only 3 sheep. But I want this flock to follow me because they know my voice and I want that voice to be gentle. I want to lead them with a tender touch and gentle words. I don't want them to go where I want them to go because I'm biting and snarling at them. This is a task I should be able to do because I, too, am led by shepherd. He is gentle. Because his Spirit lives within me, I know it is possible.