purple sheep.

{note: this is not the actual stained glass window that I refer to below}

I was recently in a church where there was a large stained glass window, front and center, depicting Jesus as "The Good Shepherd", halo around his head, with pink and purple sheep surrounding him. He held the smallest, least colorful sheep in the palm of his hand and a glowing staff in the other. When I first saw it I smiled, admiring the artist for their creativity, but the longer I sat there staring at it (it was smack dab right in the front of the church, so I really couldn't help it) I couldn't help but ponder how I envision "The Good Shepherd" when I pray, "...I shall not want..."Of course I have a limited understanding of what it means for Jesus Christ to shepherd me, framed within the context of sheep grazing within fenced areas on farms. Jesus was talking to a group of men who knew sheep (John 10). I imagine these men have a similar thought pattern as the shepherds that Steve and I met in Afghanistan last year when it comes to sheep. The sheep that I envision aren't the cute and cuddly stuffed toys (unrelated sidenote: all of Katie's toy sheep, yes there were more than one, were named "Joey") that my sister carried around as a kid. As creative as I am, I am way too much of a realist (I refused to watch cartoons as a kid) to imagine a glorious, glowing Jesus snuggling pink and purple sheep. The sheep that I envision are the kind that roam aimlessly, that eat garbage out of gutters unless directed to the luscious patch of green meadow and peaceful stream beside it.

We were driving on our way back into town from a remote village where we had just distributed food during a drought. We were WAY out there and hadn't seen any sign of life for hours. Then, in the dusty distance, 3 figures appeared. As we got closer we could make out hundreds of sheep, a few donkeys and three men. We stopped to meet them and offer them the last of the oil, sugar and flour that we had left over from the food distribution. They were grateful, thanked us and told us that they had to be on their way. The sheep needed to be tended and guided. The shepherds walked away from us and we watched as their sheep followed.

I can't speak for the stained glass artist, but for me this is a beautiful example of "The Good Shepherd" faithfully guiding his sheep through right paths in the desert, no end in sight, but still they lead their sheep onward.

The LORD is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the LORD
Psalm 23

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