"we all, like sheep"
Years ago, we attended a church that was a busy and active place ~ but a place where I felt very lonely. We were there for a little less than two years, and although we loved the teaching, I somehow never really felt a part of that church.
Now, that had never been a big deal to me before. The church we attended before that one, we had attended for about 15 years, and all we did was show up on Sunday mornings, hear the sermon, sing a few songs, and leave. And we were fine with that. But the reason we had left that church was because we'd had a couple of Amazing and Awesome kids, and so life had gotten a little more complicated. That church was several miles from our house, so we decided it was time to find someplace a little closer to home. In addition, we knew at some point, our kids would want to be involved in the youth activities at the church, and it would be hard to be driving that far more than once a week.
So we prayed and talked to friends and heard good things about church #2. So off we went. And as I say, we loved the teaching, so we stayed. It was close to home, the kids were enjoying their classes, and everything seemed copacetic.
But then I volunteered to serve in the Children's Ministry. And in the months that I served there, I'm not sure that anyone there ever knew my name. I volunteered, I was told where to serve, and I did. No one else in the Sunday School program ever introduced themselves to me. The whole time I was there, I felt like they were all strangers.
I decided to end my service one Sunday morning, as I sat on a curb in the parking lot, crying in frustration to the Apple of my Eye. Something had gone wrong that morning, and while it hadn't been a big thing, I was empty. I had given all I had, and I was dry.
When I look back, I think the biggest problem was that I had no one there guiding me. If there was anyone praying for me or caring for me, I didn't know it. I had signed up to be a shepherd to those little children, but there was no one shepherding me.
Now, I know you might be thinking ~ why didn't I reach out more? Why didn't I introduce myself to someone if I felt no one knew me. I can't answer that. Maybe I would, now. But at the time, I was giving all I could. I think I was just too unsure of myself to try.
We've been at our current church for about 7 years, very happily. And I have learned in this church, and in my Bible study, that there is not only joy in shepherding, there is joy in being shepherded. We are, after all, sheep.
David was a shepherd. Moses was a shepherd. God knew that they understood sheep. Their knowledge of shepherding meant that they would know how to follow Him, as their Shepherd. They cared for their sheep by finding them still water, and a quiet place to rest, and by protecting their sheep from predators. This enabled them to trust Him, as their Shepherd, to do the same for them.
We need to be fed, not just feed others. Finding that balance is key. Being shepherded means being on the receiving end of compassion, encouragement and prayer, just as we are giving it. So take joy in the fact that He has created you to be a shepherd, but take joy, also, that you were created to be a sheep!
~ "We are His people and the sheep of His pasture" ~