(Psalm 23)

All is quiet on the plateau where the shepherds had
herded their sheep the evening before. The star-studded
sky is beginning to lighten a bit, promising a new day.
The shepherds are stirring, wakefulness replacing their
 guarded sleep of the night just ended.

They had positioned themselves strategically to be protectors of their flocks
 in the community sheepfold. Here and there they heard
a “baa” as the sheep aroused out of their slumber eager
 to be on their way to a nice green breakfast.

One ewe heavy with lamb moaned in her sleep and awoke
with a start from a vivid dream. She breathed a sign of relief
when she realized that it was only a dream. It was so real
that she shuddered and her heart pounded when she
remembered it. It was reminiscent of her scary experience
of two years ago when she thought she would surely die.
But, let’s allow Maryewe to tell us about it in her words.

Maryewe’s Story

It was early evening and we were on our way back to the
cote and safety of the shepherds’ care. We had had a
good day of foraging and were ambling along toward the
 evening’s resting place. I was near lambing, so I was a bit cumbersome and slow but enjoying the walk.

As I trudged
along at the back of the fold, I noticed this absolutely
luscious patch of grass off to the side. It was such a
tempting morsel. It was early yet, so I waddled toward
 the great salad I had spotted as the flock continued
following their shepherds. I would just grab a few bites and
 catch up with the others soon enough; anyway I knew
 the way home.

What I didn’t know, however, nearly cost me my life
right then and there. The tall grass concealed a ditch,
which became a pitfall for me. Down I went, ker-thump!
 And ended up on my back. I tried and tried but I just could
not aright myself. There I lay, feet in the air, gasping for
breath, knowing that in a little while I would lose feeling in
my legs as the blood left them and gases would build up in
my body; and I would die in the tall grass. No one would
know what happened to me. I knew I was a “cast sheep”
 and desperate, bleating with all the strength I had.
You probably know that a “cast” sheep is one in my position,
so you can imagine my horror at my impending death.

I recalled a song the shepherd sang that said, “Why art
thou cast down…?” (Psalm 42:6). In this case I knew why
 I was cast down; I had strayed from the fold. But let me tell
you about my Good Shepherd. He knows when one of His
sheep is missing, because He knows everyone of us by name.
As I lay there pondering my fate, I heard Him call my name, “Maryewe!”

Oh, great joy! He had found me. He knew that
 my legs were numb from lack of circulation, so He gently
 massaged them to get the blood flowing again, picked me up,
 laid me over His shoulder and carried me back to fold. He
 didn’t scold or upbraid me. He just tenderly set me down
in the safety of His presence.

Today we will go out again. Our Good Shepherd is calling us
 and we are following Him, knowing that He will find us a good pasture.

I always know His voice, even though there are other sheepfolds and shepherds here.

We only go at the sound of His voice. I know His name too; Lord is my Good Shepherd.

 I never have to worry about where the next meal is coming from,
 because He always provides and I have no wants.

I and other members of our flock will follow Him today as
 He leads us to the green pastures. When we have eaten our
 fill, then we’ll lie down right there in the green pasture. That
should tell you that we are content—we would not be lying
down resting, sleeping next to our dinner plate if we had not
been fed well. You will also notice that he will lead us beside
 a gently bubbling brook. He knows that we would not be able
to drink from a rushing river. He always knows what we
 need and provides the best for us.

(Later) I feel so restored! I have had a good feed, plenty
of pure water and a peaceful nap. Ewes in my condition need
 to have plenty of rest and good care. My Shepherd, Lord,
always knows how to pick the best paths for us to travel on.
He goes before us, preparing the way; but while He is
leading He never forgets to keep a watchful eye on the
 sheep at the rear of the flock.

That’s how He missed me and came looking until He found
 me when I had all but given up. I had walked into a valley
of the shadow of death. I was hopeless and could not help
myself when He came to me and said, “Don’t be afraid,”
and rescued me from the evil that had entrapped me. So,
you can very well see why I have such complete confidence
 and trust in Lord. I just knew He would not leave me lying
there for a wolf to devour or to die from my
condition and exposure.

He always carries a rod, and He knows how to use it if
a predator threatens one of us. He also carries a long
 shepherd’s hook that can reach into precipices or dangerous
 places and pull a sheep in trouble back to safety. The rod
and staff and what in my heart I hear Him say --“I’ll never
 leave you nor forsake you”--comfort me!

Our enemies do not intimidate Lord. He takes us to
these choice feeding places and peaceful streams of water
 and right there in the presence of enemies lurking in far
perimeters waiting for a chance to devour us, He spreads our banquet!

That’s our Lord! He keeps balm for wounds and
 oil for our wool to ward off insects and pests that would feed
on us and impede our good health.

I have been fed, watered, exercised from green pasture
to green pasture and protected from all harm and danger.
 An interesting note is that when we water at the wells, there
 are small stone containers, “cups,” into which the shepherds sparingly pour the precious water for their sheep. But Lord
doesn’t spare the water. He fills our cups until they run over.
You can see why I love Lord so much, can’t you?

Lord is a Good Shepherd who cares deeply for all His fold.
 I will continue to follow Him wherever He may lead me,
because I know that I’ll have a safe place to stay and all
my needs will be met. He’s such a Good Shepherd! His
goodness and mercy (remember how He took care of me
 when I strayed) will follow me all the days of my life. I know
 I can leave my little new lamb safely in His care forever!

Yes, my Lord is a Good Shepherd!

(Psalm 23)

Delores Adams
June 8, 2003

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