Covered By His Wings: A Shepherdess’ Hope

God uses the most amazing avenues to teach us. Being a farm girl and writer, it’s no surprise that He chooses farm analogies to reach my soul. I’m always noticing the correlation between God’s loving care for us and the principles used in animal husbandry.

For example, I don’t only see a group of chicks running for cover under their mother’s wings. I see Psalm 91:4 at work – God’s people resting and finding safety under His wings.

As a shepherdess, I often see these same striking similarities in the care & keeping of my flock of sheep.

Our circumstances have been different these last 3 or 4 years. When we started our flock they were at our personal residence and we had very high success rates with lambing. If I remember correctly, we didn’t lose a single lamb when they were at our house.

Since then, we moved and we haven’t had them with us for about three and a half years now.

Our flock has struggled since the move. Be it coyotes, parasites, trouble lambing, or pregnancy toxemia (an energy crisis) we’ve lost dozens of sheep and lambs. One year, we had some 25 lambs born and every single one was lost to coyotes. Another year, we had a rainy season that was just too much for our lambs and they succumbed to parasites. We tried to catch it in time but it was too late. Still, another year, it was the brutal cold of single digit temperatures everyday.

This year, our waning flock lost a ewe and her unborn triplets to pregnancy toxemia because of poor nutrition. I was devastated.

Brooks told me that one of the lost lambs was a beautiful black color. This flock originated from a black colored ram and don’t you know I’ve been on pins and needles just WAITING for the genetics to spit out a bah-bah black sheep!?!?! I’m crushed that we lost it.

No, these are not our sheep. 🙂

We have learned that our sheep do exceptionally well when they are close by and in our immediate care. It’s too difficult for them to survive without us. Cattle are a little more self-sufficient. Their large mass and the mother’s ability to intimidate & run off coyotes is a huge help. In contrast, sheep are just plain-ole’ defenseless.

Jesus calls us His flock. We are His sheep. We are just as fragile, just as defenseless, and don’t thrive well when we are apart from God our shepherd.

This was the lesson I’ve learned first hand and applied to my own life.

Not too long ago, I posted on social media a little mini devotional. I mentioned my struggle with wanting to quit church and so many of my fellow infertiles reached out and echoed saying they too were struggling to be in church. For me, I was working through depression from the miscarriage and Christmas season, along with other variables about my life that were wreaking havoc such as work, relationships, business, etc.

I was frustrated and never have I felt more forsaken and forgotten by God. Anger doesn’t even really begin to describe my view of life. But, it was absolutely one of the reigning emotions.

Then, when I was finally reaching the deepest of pits in this valley, God reminded me of my sheep. And it was then that I realized I had distanced not only my physical self from Him (not going to church or surrounding myself with fellow believers), but I had also distanced my heart from Him.

My faith was still strong as there was a large part of me who, like Job, just kept looking to the Lord for help. But, there was also a portion of me that was just going through the motions. I wasn’t authentic in some moments. I had let my suffering and the need for comfort be the forefront of my focus.

How many times have we found ourselves in situations that we feel like no matter what we do we just can’t seem to get relief? And that’s all we want!! Just a little relief.

But, friends, I am telling you that these last few months as I wallowed in my grief, anger, and bitterness I was failing to do one important thing… keep my physical body and my heart as close to the Lord as possible.

Because of this, I started to look like my own flock who had been away from me for so long. Just as their health declined, so did mine by way of stress. Just as their work suffered (lambing), so did mine. They were more vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks (coyotes) and so was I (the devil’s schemes).

With this year starting out like the last 3 for our sheep… loss, poor health, attacks… this shepherdess has had enough. I have drawn my sheep close to me and they’re by my side now and, wouldn’t you know, they’re health is being restored.

In the same way, I’ve done the same with God as my own shepherd. He’s drawn me nearer and I’ve moved myself closer to Him through repentance, prayer, and staying in His word. Finally, I have relief… the genuine kind. The kind where I’m laying down in green pastures and traveling along still waters. {Psalm 23} Peaceful and restful.

This season of pruning has been harsh and painful. Brutal, really. But, nothing compares to living in the closeness of your shepherd, in proximity of His sight, and under the shelter of His wings. Lesson learned.

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