Over my bed hangs a plaque with my name Rachel, its meaning (lamb, gentle, innocence) and the verse Isaiah 40:11.
He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the LAMBS with His arm
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.
This verse took on special significance for me when I was pregnant with my oldest son John. My husband and I found ourselves in a place of uncertainty, not knowing where God was leading us or how He would provide financially. (We were rich in Christ, but very poor in material wealth.) In anxious fear I knelt at my bed and cried out to my Abba Father. Glancing up, I noticed my name plaque and the verse. And in that moment I felt God’s arms around me, reassuring me that He was carrying me–His lamb–in His bosom and that He would gently lead both me and the young child in my womb.
Now 20 years later, my Good Shepherd has reminded me once again that He holds me–His lamb–and my offspring in His arms. The week before traveling to Camp Shelby in Mississippi to say goodbye to my firstborn (who would be leaving for Afghanistan within a week) was full of mixed emotions. I was excited and eager to see my son again after being separated for almost two months, but our brief time together also meant his imminent departure to a dangerous place far from loved ones and my protective arms.
Not by coincidence, the name Jehovah Roi, or God is my Shepherd, was the name of God for the week in Ann Spangler’s Praying the Names of God online devotional. At the same time, God was comforting me through a book that a dear friend gave me (Psalm 91 for Mothers by Peggy Joyce Ruth and Angelia Ruth Amy Schum) from which the following is excerpted:
Do you know why God calls us His SHEEP? It’s because a sheep is the only animal that doesn’t have any protection on its own. It is not like a dog that can bark away his enemies or a skunk that can spray out a bad odor to keep from being bothered. Some animals have sharp teeth to protect themselves, but a sheep doesn’t have anything to protect himself–EXCEPT THE SHEPHERD. We are God’s sheep, and Jesus is our good Shepherd. He wants us to know that He is our protector. Just as the shepherds on the hillside protect their sheep, Jesus wants to protect us.
I love my son dearly, but God who made him loves him far more than I ever will. He understands what it is like to send a son as an ambassador to a faraway, dangerous place (John 3:16; Romans 8:32). And He knew long before Jesus came, the indescribable death awaiting Him. Yet, He sent His Son who willingly left the beauty and perfection of heaven to live in a fallen, wicked world that cruelly rejected Him–not because we were worthy, but because of His great love for us even when we were unlovely (Philippians 2:5-8; Ephesians 2:1-7).
Yes, Jesus is my good Shepherd (Psalm 23; John 10). He covers me under His wings (Psalm 91). I can go nowhere (even to the remotest or most dangerous parts of the world) where He is not (Psalm 139). He is my keeper who watches over me day and night. He never sleeps, but is ever watchful. He is my shade on my right hand, and whether I come or go, He can protect me from all harm or evil (Psalm 121). Nothing or no one can snatch me from His loving embrace (Romans 8:31, 35-39). How comforting to be able to rest in those everlasting arms! (Deuteronomy 33:26-27). I can trust my future (and my children) to the Good Shepherd who carries me in His bosom and gently leads me to places of rest and peace in His wonderful presence (Isaiah 40:11).
How does a mother feel about not being able to hug her son on his 20th birthday? In Happy Birthday in Afghanistan, I share my feelings and reminisce about the snowy December night my eldest son entered the world.
Psalm 23 is perhaps one of the best known and well-loved psalms in the Bible. The Shepherd’s Psalm is a poem I wrote based on Psalm 23.