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Our Forever Shepherd



“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd…” Revelation 7:17


Easter morning found me sighing as I discovered a stain on my “nice” coat on our way to church. We were barely healthy after a bout of strep that kept us homebound for the week, watching the flurries swirl outside on the first week of “spring” (which we all know is still basically winter in Minnesota ☃️). As the day continued, my girls ripped their brand new tights, I spilled tea all over my dress, and there was snow half-covering the muddy paths as I walked in the afternoon. Easter grass graced our entire living room floor, and we ran out of milk 😂. Even as we declare “He is risen,” we experience the tension between Easter Sunday and eternity where the truth of Jesus’ victory does not always feel tangible.


We exist in this gap: the now but not yet. Jesus is risen, yet life is not always all that we imagine it will be. These days with little children can feel long and isolating. We sometimes have to walk through seasons in the valley of the shadow of death. We experience brokenness in our motherhood journeys from sick kids to chronic pain, marital strife and expectations gone unmet. The land of “now but not yet” can feel like a difficult pasture to dwell in as we await our future hope: Jesus’ return.


We read in Revelation about the “yet” that lies just beyond us. John shares his beautiful vision of a great multitude in heaven “from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9). They are face down before the throne, worshiping day and night, and this is the promise that is theirs forever: “...he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’” (Revelation 7:15-17).


Those who trust in the Lamb are forever sheltered, safe, satisfied, sustained, seen, and shepherded. I hear echoes of Psalm 23 in this passage as God’s people are cared for in every way possible and given the presence of the Lamb, their Good Shepherd, forever. This Good Shepherd came as a sheep (making himself like us), suffered like a Lamb (the weakest of the flock) - and rose again victorious. Jesus fulfilled the divine role described throughout Scripture, and He has become our Forever Shepherd.


But how do we respond to this as we mother in the now but not yet? As we live victorious in one sense, anticipating all that is to come, and yet struggling along as sheep trying to shepherd our young in the brokenness of this world?

1. We grieve what is not, admitting that this journey is difficult. Our current reality does not align with this passage in Revelation 7. We must acknowledge the brokenness that we experience, accepting that this life will not meet all of our expectations and hopes. Otherwise, we will be driven to frustration and bitterness. We present our disappointment to Jesus, the Good Shepherd who cares for us. (I often forget that Jesus Himself told us we would have trouble in this world! See John 16:33.) And as our children grow and we process the brokenness of the world with them, we remind them, “This is not how things were meant to be; the Good Shepherd will make all things right in the end!”


2. We find the good in the here and now. In the “not yet,” there is still much to be grateful for. We are called to be people of JOY and gratitude, not grumbling (Philippians 4:4). Paul encourages us to be people “overflowing with thankfulness” in Colossians 2:7. We must learn from our children the art of rejoicing - I find that they are gifted at finding joy in the littlest of things as they discover the beauty of this world that we have sometimes grown numb to. The Good Shepherd died to give us “life to the full” - and though this does involve sorrow in the here and now, it also includes great joy (John 10:10).


3. We trust the Forever Shepherd instead of ourselves. This verse struck me a few weeks ago: “This is the fate of those who trust in themselves…they are like sheep and are destined to die; death will be their shepherd” (Psalm 49:13-14). The temptation to trust ourselves is real: to rely on our own knowledge, productivity and abilities in every area of life. To trust that we know what is best for our children. But we must trust Jesus instead, allowing Him to shepherd us and our children and clinging to Him at all costs. We must let ourselves be led and cared for by Him instead of living in self-sufficiency. Dependence on Jesus is our response to living in the now but not yet. We let the disappointments and depression and decisions and doubt drive us to our knees at the throne of the Lamb, our Good Shepherd who reigns forever.


We have this opportunity as moms to represent an ever so blurry image of the Good Shepherd to our children (and we must follow Him as closely as possible so that we can represent Him well). As we lean into Him, may we lead our children with gentleness just as He leads us and carries our children close to His heart. May we pursue our children persistently and lovingly, just as the Good Shepherd chases us down. May we follow the Good Shepherd’s voice and teach our children to listen to His voice as well - through the Word and the whispers of His Spirit. May we lay ourselves down for them, hour after hour, making sacrifices in a manner worthy of the Good Shepherd and His immense sacrifice. And through all these things, by His grace, may we give our children a glimpse of the Good Shepherd through our mothering.


Finally, may we (and our children!) one day be found among the multitudes of those worshiping the Lamb that we might rest in the perfect care of our Forever Shepherd. I pray along with David: Lord, “be [our] shepherd and carry [us] forever” (Psalm 28:8-9)!

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