In Need of a Shepherd
by Laurie Whitaker
Last week was packed full for me. Full of events that were full of emotion. I had a lot of questions for God, and I spent a lot of time in the Psalms. How thankful I am for the all-sufficient love of the Good Shepherd. A Shepherd who gently leads – and when I falter – carries me.
I have been feeling so much concern with what is happening in the world to those who declare the name of Jesus — those who are fleeing their homes and facing persecution and death. Concern and admiration, mixed in with the big question of asking myself what it would look like for me to face such testing of my faith. I see pictures that turn my stomach, and they lead me to prayer as I ask God to strengthen and hold up these courageous ones. I also read of the panic and fear over the ebola virus and I wonder – no – I know what this world is coming to.
I attended the open house at Women’s Outreach with a group of CrossRoads people here in our pleasant, thriving community of Red Deer. Throughout the evening the staff took small groups of us through the centre.
The stats and stories that they told us shocked me. It weighs heavy on me that over the last 12 months their domestic violence case workers have served 1,258 individuals. I was troubled that there were 60 families that qualified for the safe visitation program which protects children in situations where there is high risk for violence between parents. It saddens me that there have been 147 families that needed to participate in the monitored exchange program. This provides safety for the child as they are exchanged from one parent to another and protects then from witnessing potential conflict between the adults. Right here in our city!
Do these situations not leave indelible marks on the hearts of precious children? Does our tenderhearted Father God not weep over these little ones?
Last week, I was shaken over the targeted deaths of two members of our Canadian Military. One of them on the very ground that represents and reminds Canadians of the price that was paid for the peace and safety we enjoy. I remember two summers ago when Mark and I had the privilege to visit that Memorial and the deep respect and gratitude that the site of this place still evokes in me.
On hallowed ground how could such an event take place? I was aware that things would be different now in my safe country of Canada … that the very place that represents my freedom was not immune to evil.
In the midst of all of this, my dog Lizzie passed away. Lizzie was a Siberian Husky cross, 11 years old and had the silkiest ears I have ever felt. She was a gentle and loyal companion and unwavering in her love and devotion to our family. She was an outdoor girl who patrolled the perimeter of our yard with regular routine and serious commitment. If perchance a stranger entered her territory, such as the meter reader, she would rapidly approach, give a sniff and then roll on her back for a tummy rub. She walked with Mark and me daily and was always the first greeting I received when I walked in the back gate. She gave us her love and is a part of most of our happy family memories.
I sat with her through the quiet dark hours in our backyard the night I knew she was leaving us and as the sun rose that morning and a few leaves gently fell on us I cried over goodbyes and pain, and all that is not right in this very broken world.
I felt the need for love that won’t leave and for hope … and some help in sorting out all the complexities of this life. Have we not all felt this way at some point?
All of us are so very flawed. Some hurt and abused by those who were supposed to protect us, some abandoned, nearly ruined, some mourning the loss of our protectors, some angry, some bitterly disappointed, some bewildered, some in need of binding up and healing. All living in a world that cannot meet our needs and never complete our joy.
So in need of a shepherd, a Saviour.
As I sat watch with my Lizzie in the dark and watched her struggle, I thought about God and how He must feel as He watches our struggles. How His heart is moved with compassion, how deep His love and how endless His mercy and — in Christ — how He is a God who suffers with us.
I was reminded that Yahweh is my shepherd, and that He gently leads me to a place where I shall no longer want.