“…..thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4b
A shepherd’s staff is a long stick made of wood that has a “C” shaped curve at the top. In those times of great hardship and trouble in our lives, how does God our Shepherd comfort us with His staff?
As I began to wonder about this and look for the answer to this question, I found that there are three areas of sheep management in which the staff plays a very significant role. The first role is to draw the sheep together into an intimate relationship. If a newborn lamb becomes separated from its mother, the shepherd uses his staff to gently lift it and bring it back to the mother. He does this because he does not wish to have the ewe reject her lamb it if bears the odor of his hands on it.
The staff is also used to draw the sheep close to the shepherd for intimate examination. It is very useful in this way for the shy and timid sheep who tend to stay at a distance from the shepherd.
The shepherd uses his staff it to guide the sheep gently onto a new path, through a gate or along dangerous and difficult routes. The tip of that long slender stick is laid gently against the side of the sheep. The pressure applied guides the sheep in the way that the shepherd wants it to go. This reassures the sheep of its proper path.
When things happen in my life that causes me to feel that God has betrayed me in some way and does not really love me, He comforts me with His staff. My tendency is to close down my heart and pull away from Him, but He loves me too much to allow me to do that. He does not want to be separated from me. So, He takes His staff and gently lifts me up bringing me back to Himself.
Once I am drawn close to my Shepherd, He uses His staff to examine my heart very closely and helps me to really see myself just as I am. This allows me to take a deep, long look into my heart and open up those doors that have been sealed shut for so very long. This process then brings to light the things that have been hindering me from having that truly intimate relationship with Him so that I can deal with them. It opens up my Pandora’s box and cleans it out.
Change happens in life……..changes that are unforeseen and unwanted changes that blindside me. When those kinds of changes come, I find myself at a complete loss as to what way to go. This is when my Shepherd again takes His staff and gently guides me onto the new path that He has already prepared for me. Then as I begin to go down this new path, He takes His staff and lays it with gentle pressure against my side reassuring me that He is right there with me and I am going the right way.
“My dear Shepherd, thank you that even when I am resisting the path that You have planned for my life, You are not turning your back on me leaving me to figure things out on my own. Thank you that you love me with an everlasting love and that I have the comfort of your staff always.”