a good shepherd

A few days ago, I went on a walk with my husband and kids. We have a creek that crosses our property  into a wooded lot next to ours. The kids love to explore this area. I love the idea of it: being in nature, seeing all that lives and grows. But what I don’t love: snakes! We have found several in our backyard this spring, so I am all too aware of them. As we explore, I make my husband walk in front, as the snake hunter, with a large “walking stick/snake mover.” We follow behind him, and I am more at ease that we will be okay. We’re safe; if there’s a snake to be found, he’ll find it. But my anxiety isn’t completely gone. How do I know? Well, it can be heard in my constant reminders to the kids (3 and 4 years old) to “Stay behind Daddy!!”

As we neared home that day, I was struck with how at ease the kids were. Sure, they are ignorant of the dangers that “could” be out there. But they are also happy to follow their dad and enjoy the trip, pointing out ants, all the colors, honey suckle vines, and so many more joys of being outdoors. Can I say I was enjoying the journey? Not entirely. I was worried because my mind was focused on what might happen: what if Mike doesn’t see a snake in time? What if he leads us through poison ivy? What if he takes us on a path too difficult  for little legs? I was spending energy in places other than trusting the leader God has given our family. Mike is a man who diligently cares for and watches for ways to do the right thing and lead in the right direction.

What would it look like for me to follow Jesus with a childlike heart, trusting that He goes before us and has our best in mind? To enjoy this journey, even with all the realities of danger, because I trust that Christ is my shepherd and he won’t leave me. What is a shepherd’s job? To protect his flock, keep them healthy, lead them to pastures and streams that will nourish them. Are there predators and dangers? Yes. That’s why he carries a rod and staff, to fight for the sheep’s lives.

Psalm 23 says:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
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 your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Did Mike have to use his “rod” that day to fend off snakes? No. Would he have run ahead to leave us (me) to snake hunt? Not a chance. Will Christ leave us alone to fend for ourselves in this “snake infested” cultural climate? Not a chance. He is a good shepherd. We can rest in His leadership. We can trust his intentions to lead us by still waters, to be with us even as we walk through “the valley” and to prepare a place for us to come home to… forever with Him.

CC Schott is the Women’s Director of Community Discipleship. In this role, CC “takes Barnabas to the streets” by equipping the community to offer Christ to their friends in struggle.  Prior to joining the team at Barnabas, CC served as the Local Ministry Coordinator for Project 658, a Charlotte ministry reaching refugees. Before that, she was on the Young Life staff for 8 years which is how she landed in Charlotte in 2002. CC holds a BFA in Interior Design from Winthrop University. She has studied under Larry Crabb, garnering tools through Larry’s School of Spiritual Direction. CC is married to Mike and they have a son, Wally and a daughter, Grace.

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