Today read Psalm 77 and Ezekiel 34:11-16
Pray today: Blessed are You Jehovah, forever and ever, for giving us the doorway to the Kingdom of Heaven in Messiah.
I moved a lot as a kid. Every time I went to a new school I had to fight to see where I was in the pecking order, who could beat me up and who could I beat up. I was in the 4th grade in Florence, KY. About my third day there, some kid bumped into me in the hall. There was this moment of indignation and insults. Then that confrontation would end with, “I’ll see you on the playground after school.” For the rest of the day I would carry the dread of what was going to happen that afternoon.
School would end. All the kids would be buzzing because by now it was whispered across the 4th grade, “The new kid is going to fight today.” I would begrudgingly head for the playground, knowing what was ahead. Let me be honest, I was pretty low on the pecking order in grade school. There was a lot more of the getting beat up than the beating up. I would try to think of other exits, of clever retorts, of hiding in the gymnasium until everybody left and then running away to Mexico. I would dream of some protector, some body guard kind of guy that would step in and scare the bully away. But sooner or later, I realized, I had to go out and face the music.
In Ezekiel 34, the first 10 verses, the Children of Israel had no protector. God calls then sheep without a shepherd. In fact, He condemns the priests because they were supposed to step in and keep their sheep from getting beat up, but they didn’t. He says, “My flock lack a shepherd and has been plundered and has become food for the wild animals.” If I translate that into modern English I would say, “They have been picked on at school and are getting beat up all the time.” And then we turn the page and verse 11 happens, “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says, I myself will search for My sheep and look after them.”
Now for a kid who got beat up a lot, or an adult who is getting slammed around by the world now, that is good news. The bullies of this age, COVID, racism, anti-Christian sentiment, all of the things that beat us up everyday are no match for the Protector Shepherd. In another famous Shepherd passage it says, “He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” (Psalm 23:5). Later on here He says, “I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.” No more bullying. No more bloody noses or cut lips. When the big kid starts hurling insults at me the Great Shepherd will step in and take care of me. I like that.
Maybe you have been pushed around lately by cancer. Maybe depression has threatened to meet you after school. Maybe the bully you face is a fractured family, an empty bank account, a wounded marriage. Whatever it is, you have a Great Protector, a Body Guard, a Shepherd to step into the fight and take care of you. He says here you can, “lie down in good grazing land.” In the 23rd Psalm, “I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and staff comfort me.” (Vs 4) Whatever you are facing, whatever is waiting for you after school, the Shepherd has got this. He has got you. And He will come looking for you to defeat your enemies for you and to bless your life. In one more Shepherd passage, John 10, He says, “I have come that they night have life and have it more abundantly.” That is great news for those of us who got beat up a lot in school.
If I ever see that kid that beat me up again, knowing now that God is my Great Protector, I am going to walk right up to her and give her a piece of my mind.