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I Shall Not Want
Fearful, helpless, unable to proceed—the sheep in her care needed her direction and assurance to overcome turbulent waters. Jesus said we're like sheep.

The water is cold as I step in, and my jeans are clinging to me within seconds. The bottom of my sweater gets submerged as well, but the small bundle in my arms is dry, so I hardly notice.

I have learned a lot about sheep, the creature Jesus has likened us to, and I have been ashamed and humbled by such during my experience with them.

Trapped by the rising river, the flock of sheep have been rounded up and after literally dragging the first resistant few across the narrow expanse, the rest have caught on to the idea and are crowding through the water to safety.

I have learned a lot about sheep, the creature Jesus has likened us to, and I have been ashamed and humbled by such during my experience with them. Foremost in my mind is the thought that one would perhaps be hard pressed to find a more foolish animal. Yet, as I carry this young lamb to safety, I am given some fresh wisdom. I notice many things, such as the fact that the lamb I carry cannot help itself. If I do not carry it across this narrow, streaming patch of water, the lamb will not cross at all. I am soaked up to my waist in cold water, but while to me this water is only a small annoyance, and while it takes me little effort to cross it, and be on my way, to the flock and to this lamb it was an impossible barrier until we came, showed them the way, and made them go across.

How like we people, afraid and refusing to cross what our Father can step over, pushing and panicking at the edge until he comes and shows us the way. This even if he must give us a firm push or carry us.

All the sheep could see was the edge of the ground, and beyond it the moving water. It took us to come along and reveal to them that they only had to swim a little way to be back on dry land and on their way home.

As I am showing them, Jesus is showing me.

I know the flock is afraid. I know just how little they see. I know they need help. These are characteristics of sheep. Of course I'm not irritated at their fear. I am also not annoyed at the young lamb. They are unable to do it alone. Instead of annoyance, what I feel is a knowing compassion. I am glad to carry this burden. There is joy in this gift of giving aid to the helpless.

As I wade, Scriptures pass through my mind: "And when he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." "I am the good shepherd … and I lay down my life for the sheep … " (Matthew 9:36; John 10:14,15).

In the same way that I pick up a small white animal and carry it across an expanse too vast for it to handle, my Saviour picked up my sin and carried it to the cross, an expanse too vast for me to handle.

My heart overflows, and praising my Shepherd, I wade out of the water and release the lamb.

Jessica Graham is a member of the youth group at her home church, the Salmon Arm Worldwide Church of God congregation.

Originally published in the Northern Light Magazine, April 2002.




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