As a little girl, I ended nearly every night saying these words to my parents – “Goodnight…I love you…check on me!”
I always wanted my mom or dad to come back and make sure that I was still okay. Curled up beneath the covers, giant teddy bear in my arms, something inside of me needed to know that my mom and dad would be back to check on me, to make sure that I was safe. I needed the promise of their presence to comfort me in that dark room. I couldn’t go to sleep until I knew that my parents- bigger, stronger, and wiser than I was – were looking out for me when I couldn’t look out for myself.
I don’t think that any of us ever outgrow the need to feel secure…to know that there is someone who cares about us and looks out for us.
For many of us, the longing to know that someone bigger, stronger, and wiser is standing with us only grows as we get older and can fully understand that life is full of uncertainty. Because things get shaky, don’t they? Our trust in people or our circumstances or what we think we know can come undone in an instant…in this world, there are so many times when we are not capable of controlling or changing our situations. We can’t always look out for ourselves – and in a world dark, unsettled, and broken by sin, this can be a terrifying feeling.
But in the darkness, we have the promise of God’s presence to comfort us.
People may let us down – things of earth that we try to depend upon will let us down – but He never has and He never will. Jesus came into this world and gave His life for us…when the Enemy would have kept us bound in fear and the death that sin brings to our souls, our Savior came and gave Himself for us. He was looking out for us when we could not look out for ourselves…and He made the way for our hearts to be forever-safe in the Father’s House.
We can trust Him, this Savior who came to bring us life…this Savior who is with us still, ever-interceding for our sake and working all things out for our good.
We do not have to be afraid because, as He says in John 10, He is the Good Shepherd and we are His sheep.
A shepherd stands guard over his flock. The sheep are not capable of taking care of themselves and so the Shepherd takes that burden upon himself – he leads them to the water, to the food that will help them to grow. He protects them from the danger that would encroach – even if it means facing the danger himself. He tends to their injuries, to their pain. If one wanders away, he finds it and brings it home again.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.”
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. – from John 10
Our Good Shepherd is always bigger, stronger, and wiser. He is always faithful – never abandoning us, always looking out for us.
So, tonight, if you are feeling less than brave or less than loved…if you are feeling alone or if your heart is hurting…
You have a Savior – a Shepherd – who will hear your call to Him. He knows your voice…and if you begin to talk to Him and listen, you will know His. There will be hard, impossible-to-understand, frightening moments in this life – but nothing can separate you from His love. Your heart is safe with Him.
Just like that long-ago-little-girl who went to sleep in confidence that she was cared for…unafraid because someone who loved her was looking out for her…you can have peace. You can rest, even if the room is dark…even if the night seems to be going on and on…even if you’re not sure what tomorrow will bring.
Because you, friend, are loved without measure…and the God who brings the sun up in the morning and steadies the moon by night…the God who knows if a sparrow falls and causes the seasons to change…the God who sits enthroned above the circle of the earth…the One who laid the cornerstone of the earth while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy…the One who holds all of creation together in His Wisdom, in His Power, and in His Love – He is holding you, too.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young. –Isaiah 40:11