Desert Shepard

“He found his people in a desertland,

 in a barren place where animals howl.

He guarded them,

took care of them,

and protected them

because they were helpless.”

Deut. 32:10

God had not intended to have His people living in a barren desert.   His plan had begun in a perfect paradise garden.  But over the ages, their story had spiraled down to a point where they were literally, and spiritually, in a barren desert.   They had become the “prey.”

And God found them there.  The desert had not been His intention, yet He had pursued them to the very place that would destroy them if left to themselves.   He stepped in as Guardian of their lives, providing for their needs in order to survive in this desolate destination of their own choices.  And He stepped in to protect them from all the things that threatened their existence.  They had gone too far to help themselves.  They were not able to protect themselves, or to do anything to escape their advancing demise.  They had gotten themselves into this deadly situation.

Yet, the Shepherd of all shepherds stepped into their hopeless reality:

  • He guardedthem . . . literally placing Himself between them and the danger that threatened their lives;
  • He took care of them . . . providing for their needs. . . food, water, healing, all the practical, day-in-day-out needs that require time, patience, knowledge of health and all that can lead to sickness and death.
  • He protected This requires constant attention to all that could come to threaten, harm, or destroy His people.  He watchfully was poised to intercept any danger that came near to the helplesscreatures He loved.  Sheep are the most helpless animals to care for, as they have NO means of natural defense…except to run until they literally knock themselves out in their frantic attempts to escape their threat.

In the desert refugee camps, I was privileged to know a man – a governor – who lived out a similar reality, as a Good Shepherd:

He led the largest camp with quiet strength, wisdom and vision.  The previously struggling camp was transforming into a vibrant, productive community.  He worked tirelessly toward his goal:  If they can learn to thrive in hardship, they will flourish when they are back in their homeland of Western Sahara.

Often weary and overwhelmed, he would journey alone to  the sand dunes and peer up into the star-studded heavens.  There in the vast quietness, he would pour out his heart to The Creator.  Perspective returned.  Clarity. Purpose.  Comfort.  And he would return to his camp of thousands, ready to face another day.

 

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