Carried in Shalom

by Christine Sine

by Ana Lisa de Jong


Image courtesy of Unsplash, photo by Biegun Wschodni Click photo for original.

Very recently we held our annual NZDF Chaplains’ Conference. Such a busy time of preparation for me as an administrator for chaplaincy, and a feat of logistics to ensure the week ran smoothly as we hosted 30+ chaplains at our base. As I went into the week I carried a degree of anxiety. There were some burdens weighing me down and fears I was giving too much attention.

I recall God saying to me clearly as I went into the week, ‘walk in my footsteps. Just stay in my footsteps and you’ll be okay’. ‘Walk in his footsteps?’ I thought, ‘this seems too hard, what big steps to fill, plus his feet are righteous and stick to the right path. My feet are wilful and tend to go astray.’

Our facilitator, Pastor Alan Jamieson arrived to lead some of our sessions. The first picture he gave us was God as our shepherd. He took us gently through the 23rd Psalm in his slow, calm voice. As he showed us the picture of Jesus carrying a small sheep on his shoulders my eyes welled up. And when he gave us 10 minutes to find a quiet spot and let the Holy Spirit speak, I realised what God had been meaning to teach me. Alan asked us to select one of the verses in Psalm 23 for reflection. I choose, ‘…he guides me in right paths for his name’s sake’. And in my 10 minutes alone I penned the following poem:

In the Right Paths

At my beginning
At my end
which is not an end, only ever a beginning.

At my front
At my rear
Fortified, and held secure.

At my feet
Leading my steps
Placing them, one after the next.

Guiding me in righteous paths
for your own sake,
that I won’t misstep.

For I know your glory
is greater than my own
ends which I might prefer to seek.

And you would lift me
on your shoulders,
so that my walk
is in your steps.

At our conference we reflected on God being our shepherd and we talked about all the characteristics of a shepherd. We considered how, just as God is our shepherd, we are called to be shepherds ourselves. Some profound and memorable nuggets of truth settled down within me. Here was the word for which I thirsted, here was the comfort for which I longed.

But most of all I recall the picture of Jesus with the lamb on his shoulders and how I realised I don’t need to trace his large footsteps with my own when he carries me.

Today I pray for you the comfort of the shepherd, who knows his sheep, just as we are the sheep who listen for and know his voice.

Think for a moment of the qualities and the responsibilities of a shepherd. God our shepherd protects, tends, feeds and waters us. He nurtures, heals, guides, and leads us. He searches for us. The list is endless. You might have your own thoughts to add.

Read the many bible verses on this theme. Isaiah 40, Ezekiel 34, Psalm 23, Matthew 18, John 10. The theme of God as a shepherd runs through the new and old testaments like a living stream of truth.
As you consider his shepherding you, let God remind you of his constant commitment to your welfare. He would leave the 99, and carry you joyfully home on his shoulders.

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Isaiah 46:4

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.
Isaiah 40:11
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.
Luke 15:4

Ana Lisa de Jong
Living Tree Poetry

This post is part of our October Living into the Shalom of God series.


Jenneth Graser October 7, 2016 - 3:14 am

Beautiful comfort in your life giving words dear Lisa! Wonderful poem of shalom rest. I just needed this today!

Joy Lenton October 10, 2016 - 10:33 am

Beautiful poetic thoughts. These ones especially spoke to me:
“At my front
At my rear
Fortified, and held secure”
Thank you for reminding us just Who has got us covered! Blessed by your words, Ana Lisa. xo

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