“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:1-4
I am writing this blog in church. I think I’m the only person here who “sprung forward” for daylight savings time. So I have an hour to write, in this empty, yet cheery, sun-filled sanctuary.
This has been a pretty good week. I think that God has such a perfect way of balancing our views of things out. Last week I was struck by how little the people here know about God and the basics of scripture. This week, God showed me places in His word that I cannot possibly understand as well as the Navajo.
The sermon and Sunday school lessons have been about sheep.
If you say the word “trinity”here, you’ll have some explaining to do. But Jesus’ lessons about the good shepherd? Everyone nods knowingly and tells tales of the shepherding they have done.
They all agree that you come to love your little flock. You spend hours and hours- all day, every day- getting to know them. You name them. You know if one is sick. They know your voice and follow you when you call.
John10:2-5 “The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”
I asked some questions this week about sheep, so I could better understand the process of herding them.
What happens when one of your sheep wanders off?
Well you settle the others in a safe place and you go to find it. “It’s really scary when you’ve lost one of your flock”, explained one woman to me. “You really come to love them and you don’t want any harm to come to them.”
Matthew18:11-14 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”
Do sheep often wander off?
“Not too often. But those goats! Those goats are so bad. There are usually a few goats in a herd and they wander off and climb up cliffs all the time. I’m always looking to make sure all the goats are still there.”
Matthew 25:31-33,41 “When the son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world….Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
What’s the hardest part of herding sheep?
“Lambing. You have to make sure the mama sheep look after their young. Sometimes you have to carry the little ones to make sure they aren’t lost or injured. It’s a lot of extra work when you have lambs”
Isaiah 40:11 “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”
“I think and pray”
“I bring my Bible and read”
“I enjoy the nature around me.”
“I sing all of the hymns I can remember. It makes me happy and I think the sheep like it too.”
Psalm 8:1, 3-5 (a psalm of David, the shepherd) “Oh Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”
It is so interesting to live among people who are probably a lot like the people Jesus actually taught. They have lived off the land for generations and many are not highly educated. It is helping me see the teachings of Jesus with new eyes. Deep spiritual truth taught using simple illustrations from everyday life. Their everyday life…not necessarily mine.
This has been my most challenging week here. I’ve been sick all week with a yucky cold, and a little discouraged about how badly this church is struggling with leadership and organization. In Matthew 10, Jesus is out preaching and healing, and he is overwhelmed with compassion for the crowds and crowds of people because they were “like sheep without a shepherd”. Then he turns to his disciples and says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
This little church is the only church in town. It doesn’t have a pastor. The people in leadership are afraid to lead. In some regards, they are like sheep without a shepherd. An earthly shepherd. They are still shepherded by our heavenly Father.
There are ripe fields here. There is a desperate need for freedom from the grip of sin and addiction. They need to hear the good news from fellow Navajo believers. So pray with me this week and ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers into his harvest field. Ask God to give the believers in this church the courage and confidence to lead and plan and become one in reaching this little town with the good news of God’s love.
Thank you SO much for your prayers and support~ I know I say that every time I post, but I genuinely mean it. I am especially thankful for all of you when I get discouraged. It is so nice to know that we are all in this together! Blessings this week!!!!!