Growing up I had a healthy fear of my dad. Fear, not in the sense of being afraid of him, but fear in the sense of feeling he was the toughest guy I knew. In security all of his military career, including having seen combat in Vietnam, I always felt like if something were to ever “go down”, I would be in good hands.
I never remember feeling lost or scared when we went somewhere, because even though he never left them out where I could see them or find them (believe me, I tried) I knew he carried weapons and that he knew how to use them responsibly.
I remember a few occasions where things seemed to get a little tense. Sometimes, his wisdom would guide us away from the potential threat, and other times he calmy guided us to someplace we would be safe, and then intervened with us out of harm’s way.
His ability to stay calm in adversity gave me security, strength even. And his knowledge and ability to best protect me from danger made me trust him when I didn’t know how to respond. His knowledge, his wisdom, his ability to protect me, his stability and his steadfastness in protection left me with little fear as a child.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
The Psalmist describes a similar confidence in the protection provided by the Shepherd, who is YAHWEH. As we inevitably walk through what may seem like treacherous or even just unclear paths, seasons of uncertainty, and occasional danger, we can be reassured. Our Shepherd doesn’t come emptyhanded. He came prepared.
He is first, armed adequately to handle the adversaries we will face, or in fact I should say, He will face on our behalf. No shepherd would expect a sheep to fend for itself, but rather the sheep rests in the protection of the “rod” of its Shepherd.
No matter how dangerous or dark the terrain, we ought to be comforted by a Shepherd who is also prepared with his Shepherd’s “staff”. That staff acts as an extra measure of stability for the Shepherd and is used as a shield to block the attacks against the sheep.
The Shepherd’s preparation to fend off our enemies, to provide protection and stability for an uncertain and often dark path, His familiarity with the terrain ought to cause each of us to have full assurance that when we place our complete faith in this Shepherd, we can do so without fear, in full confidence.
Our Shepherd has his hands full, both hands! With what He holds in each hand, He is more than capable of caring for us. And in spite of having both hands full, there is still plenty of room for him to carry us on His shoulders when we need Him to. Maybe that’s just what you need today… for your Shepherd to just hold you on His shoulders. Just ask Him to place you there.
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes Jr.
President / CEO