The other day as I doing my early morning study, I read the following scripture:
“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11, KJV)
The imagery of Christ gently leading those that are “with young” brought tears to my eyes. Having been “with young” myself four times now, I know all too well how vulnerable – physically, emotionally, spiritually – a woman is when she is pregnant or when she has a little one tagging along beside her. The idea that Christ will “gently lead” pregnant and new mamas as he gathers his lambs to his bosom is a salve to my soul. This is the true heart of God. We are – you and I and all the mothers and children like us – we are surely his sheep and his flock, just as much as any one else.
The image of Christ as a shepherd got me to thinking about shepherding in the gospel. I went to the topical guide and found the following scriptures about shepherds in Israel. As I read them, it became pretty darn clear: God isn’t too happy with the folks who lead his flock when they scatter and feed off of His sheep. (Bold & underlined stuff is my emphasis…)
“Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:1-2 KJV)
“And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.” (Ezekiel 34:1-4 KJV)
Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all the places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick. (Ezekiel 34:9-16 KJV)
Two things about these passages really struck home for me. First, the shepherds had been “feeding” themselves from the flock. They had been taking that which was not theirs to satisfy their wants. They had scattered and driven away the sheep, they didn’t bind up those that were hurt but with force and cruelty they had led them.
Sounds a lot like what Christians (of any variety) do to single expectant mothers, even all of these years post-BSE. They scatter the very flock they should be protecting when they convince a young mother to make the “loving choice” and give her little one away. Their hunger to parent – any child, dammit! – leads them to feel justified in satisfying their craving by feeding off of the most vulnerable among us, single expectant women. The first mother then becomes an acceptable casualty, left broken and bleeding beside their path to motherhood. And when those first mothers or those children start to talk about the catastrophic loss adoption caused in their lives and the brokenness it has left behind, they are frequently met with cruelty from the very people that should have been protecting them in the first place.
I don’t know about you but it makes my heart pause to read what God says about the people who are scattering his fold: He will require his shepherds to account for what they have done to mothers and children and visit the same evil upon their heads. (What this means, I don’t know. I figure I will let God sort it out and not worry my pretty little head over it right now). Additionally, He will eventually bring an end to the unholy practice of scattering the lambs of His fold through infant adoption.
The second things and perhaps most important to my situation is when God tells us, “I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all the places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken.”
I think most first mothers will agree that the day we lost our child to adoption, the day our baby was scattered and driven away by the appetites of people who thought they were better parents, was a pretty “cloudy and dark day.” But here God promises that he will bind up that which was broken – my heart, your heart, and the hearts of millions of other mothers and children just like us. He will bind up our hearts and restore that which was lost. He will seek us out from wherever we have been scattered, bind up our broken relationship and carry us in His bosom.
In my mother’s heart, I know this to be true. I just wish I knew His timing but his ways are not my ways. I just have to keep trusting that God is faithful and he will fulfill all his promises.