It was late and dark when I heard the soft, but not quite silent, padding of small steps approaching on the carpet. I felt the small presence paused at my side of the bed. “Namma,” she whispered, “I had a bad dream.” It was not a request, just short statement, a fact, and I knew what was needed. I threw back the covers and Rylie’s night-gowned form slipped in. She snuggled closely and draped her slender arm around my waist. Sweet, I thought, that she could come, without hesitation, like a little lamb, and find immediate comfort just being in my bed.
As the years fly by, we mothers and grandmothers will remember and treasure the times when small troubles are so easily fixed—when little lambs run to us for safety and comfort. We are privileged to shepherd our little ones, leading them ultimately to our Great Shepherd.
Children are a lot like sheep. While every other animal under God’s heaven can fend for itself—even a domesticated animal when released into the wild will discover survival instincts long forgotten—sheep can’t. They can’t hunt to find food, they can’t fight to protect themselves, and they lack any homing sense to direct them to home and safety.
Your little flock needs to be watched, observed carefully, to receive the love and attention needed to thrive. You can’t ignore or postpone their cries to a more convenient hour of the day, for mothering (or shepherding, for that matter) isn’t the kind of job where you can clock in and out. You are on duty at all times, day and night, to care for your precious lambs.
What mothering requires is not only vigilance, but transparency. Kids can see right through the “do as I say, not as I do” lifestyle. If you hate vegetables and make sour faces every time you taste something green, do you honestly think your child will love to eat theirs? By your daily life, you show them what God is like, even as you tell them about God, His Word, and His world.
This is big, ladies…way big. It is the most important job you have. But don’t feel alone in this role; we can find daily, moment-by-moment encouragement in God’s promises…not in our own perfection. We need to know the Great Shepherd ourselves, and the task—simply defined—is to lead our little ones to Him.
So when the scary times come, the storms loom, or the wolves and bears threaten, we can trust them to the Best Shepherd. When tempted to fret or be discouraged, or take loving concern and turn it into unproductive fear (“What if…!”), we need to pray, “Lord, shepherd my flock! I will feed and tend and teach as You command me to, but please, I am depending on You to do what only you can. Bring each one safely to Your home, for I know You care for them even more than I do.”
Like other shepherds
help me keep
watch o’er my flock by night;
mindful of each need,
each hurt, which might
lead one to stray—
and each ill—
while others sleep
teach me to pray.
At night wolves and leopards,
hungry and clever, prowl
in search of strays
and wounded; when they howl,
my anxious heart to calm delight—
for the Great Shepherd watches with me
over my flock
by Ruth Bell Graham