So the kids finally got their puppy for Christmas.
I guess you could say it was sort of an animal Christmas for us this year.
But then, ALL Christmases are animal Christmases. Mary and Joseph traveled
to Bethlehem by donkey. Jesus was born in a stable where oxen kept him warm.
And angels appeared to shepherds watching over their sheep by night.
I was thinking about that, about the shepherds in particular, when I had
another one of those "Duh!" moments (those times I finally figure
out what everyone else has known since they were two).
Jesus came among shepherds because he is OUR shepherd. It was only right
that the chief of shepherds should be born among shepherds.
I remember a winter night many years ago, walking alone along a snow covered
street, and wondering just where my life was going. A few years earlier
I had left college to take a job at
a liturgical design studio. I had just lost that job. I was sharing a low
rent apartment (carpeted with a roll of carpeting we found left out by
the trash!), with a guy who had just announced his engagement. There was
no engagement in sight for me. The heartache was a physical pain in my
chest. And I remember seeing a pair of ducks swimming on a creek in the
moonlight - and envying them. At least they had each other. (And then I
had the sense to laugh at myself for envying ducks!).
It seems like all my life I have been searching. Searching for someone
to share my life with. Searching for a place to belong. Searching for my
wallet (a LOT of time searching for my wallet!). Searching for an actual career (that
one is still pretty elusive...). Searching to find the answers to life.
But I have it all wrong.
I haven't been searching at all - Jesus has been with me the whole time.
My shepherd has had his crook around me all the while - leading me.
I am not groping in the dark trying to find the way.
Jesus is guiding me.
A shepherd doesn't leave his sheep to find their way on their own. He leads them. He watches over them. He protects them. Jesus is leading me through this life, leading me through these places and
experiences; leading me to the green pastures, the quiet waters he has
prepared for me.
Of course, it doesn't always SEEM like it... or at least, it sure feels
like we are taking the long way around sometimes.
That's when I need to remember this...
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.