Monday, November 17, 2008

Shepherding the Little Ones to the Promised Land

I spend most of my non-work hours (and, truth be told, although don't
tell my boss) some of my work hours shepherding my kids hither and
thither. I mean this in both the literal sense (jackets, hats, and
gloves on, and off we go) and the figurative sense (helping them grow
up into adulthood). It is a tiring, perplexing responsibility. I've
never had to herd cats before, but the analogy seems apt, particularly
since I have two, who are different, respond to different things, and
sometimes work against each other. Thankfully, I have a wonderful
co-herder in Amy, although sometimes all this means is that there are
two tired and perplexed herders instead of one.

I wonder often, sometimes in the midst of the craziness itself, how
similar this is to God shepherding His people on that long and narrow
road to the promised land. It sometimes make me laugh aloud to think
of the Israelites in Biblical times, or myself in the present,
stumbling around like Jada and Aaron. The fact that my kids multiply
their waywardness by actively impeding each other makes it all the
more memorable, for don't God's people do this to themselves all the
time? And the fact that I have a co-laborer in my wife also seems
appropriate, since God invites us into His work of shepherding all the
time.

Where the analogy breaks down is particularly poignant to me. I am
not promised that I will be successful in navigating my kids through
childhood. Disease, violence, or accidents could cut their precious
lives short in a moment's notice. They may struggle intellectually or
emotionally or socially. They may fail in a very real sense. They
may even choose to abandon the faith of their father and mother. And
there is very little I can do, try as I do, to guarantee otherwise.
When I remember this sober truth is when I do my most fervent praying
for their safety and their souls.

God is different. Those He has called to be His own, He will bring to
completion, no matter how fiery the trials and windy the path. There
is no evil, whether human or spiritual, that can snatch one of His
little ones from His sure grasp. My own inability to play this role
for my very own kids, who I love fiercely, enhances my sense of awe
that my Maker does in fact possess this ability and is unshakably
committed to exercise that authority on our behalf.

Every day I give my all to shepherding my little ones to a better
life, I am reminded of how much more love and power God expresses
towards the same end for us and my children. And every time I lose my
patience, feel the weariness in my bones, or mess up, I am reminded
that He is perfectly patient, unspeakably strong, and without blemish.
"Behold, what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we
should be called children of God - and that we are!" (1 John 3:1).

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