I have this book by Adrian Rogers, titled The Lord is My Shepherd. Underneath the title, reads in a font I imagine titled, “Fancy”: Reflections on God’s Loving Care. Flip open the book with me to page 45. About one-third of the way down, we read: THE RESTORING MINISTRY OF THE SHEPHERD.
Would you take a look at it with me as Dr. Rogers gives us insight into the real-life job of a shepherd and why and how God takes this role in our lives. Starting on pg. 46 at the end of the first paragraph:
This (the rod) was a club of protection with which to defend His sheep against robbers and wild animals, as well as a club of preservation with which to correct the ways of stubborn sheep.
Occasionally, a sheep refuses to follow the shepherd’s directions. Knowing his sheep may endanger itself, the shepherd has to step in and take drastic measures. Not out of malice, but out of love, the shepherd may even carefully break the leg of the stubborn sheep with his rod of correction. Immediately afterwards, the shepherd will bind the leg in a splint, carry the sheep on his shoulders, and pour oil on it’s leg to promote healing.
…When the bone heals and the splint is removed, the sheep that had been so stubborn is now the sheep that stays closest to the shepherd!
I knew an unruly, stubborn, sheep of a girl. On one particular night, this stubborn, selfish, sheep of a girl was drunk and she drove. And she doesn’t remember most of the night. She does remember the lights, the blue ones and thinking she could get away. Then, stopping and failing the test- you know the one where you walk the line. She remembers the handcuffs that she could pull off her wrists- even though they scraped her hands- so she could yell, hit the seat, cuss, and call the cop a pig. She can still see the concern in the officer’s eyes when he put the cuffs back on, firmly grabbed her shoulders and scolded her. Maybe he was a dad. Maybe he was a believer- maybe he had prayed for her. The girl with the wild eyes, the unruly will, the one who thought every wall, rule, or person could be pushed hard enough and fall… who believed nothing to be solid- nothing could be stood on. So, she pushed and she would fall and so it seemed she may indeed be right.
This girl. This is the one they took to juvenile that night. And There. Of all places was a wall, a rule, a person that didn’t budge. A lady. She directed the unruly girl to change her clothes into the juvenile “outfit”. She was answered with a loud refusal. This lady, she had no concern in her eyes, the way the officer had earlier, at least the girl doesn’t remember any. When the direction was refused once more and the girl became more defiant, her face was met with the hand of the lady. This lady slapped the unruly girl. Now I know, some of you are horrified, but this is not your story and opinions about how juvenile should be run are not the issue at hand. So, let this girl tell her story. Because here is the life-giving part of that slap- The girl had pushed and to her surprise had found a wall. The direction was given again in a voice of authority. She changed her clothes and was escorted to her “room” with the fresh sting on her cheek and a suddenly more sober mind. This girl has never forgotten that hand meeting her face. That hand spoke to her. It said, “You are not in control. You are out of control. You have a problem. You are being detained. You have no one to blame. I am not taking your craziness. Get dressed and shut your mouth”. So, there, right there in that cell, after her yelling had been silenced, she could sit alone with herself and the truth of that slap, the message it sent, and a metal bed that would provide no relief or escape.
And so, this girl, found a wall. She still did not see the Shepherd with His rod, but with hindsight she will always be grateful to the nameless lady down at juvenile for the hand to her face. Her motive is not being questioned. This girl does not know what the lady’s motive was. It may have been wrong. But years and years later, she sees the destruction she was and is capable of and grateful for the wall she met that night because, unbeknownst to her…
This began a stirring in her for a Shepherd and a hope for a firm foundation- for something other than her will.
And she would be saved out of much grief. And she would wander, and her mighty Shepherd would “afflict” her if need be like that shepherd with the rod- to protect her from the thief who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy -and from that part of herself that would cooperate with that thief. And sometimes, it reminds her of that slap. And she thanks the Lord for His rod and how He spoke to her that night when hope seemed out of place— especially from a slap.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
May you be blessed, dear reader, with the true shepherd of your heart,
Jesus, the only One who can protect you from the wiles of the devil and
the part of yourself that would cooperate with those very wiles.
To the King! To King’s Ways!
For further meditation, see: John 10:10, Hosea 6:1, Psalm 119:67, Ephesians 6:10-18