When the Shepherd Comes

There’s a famous bit of the Song of Songs (2:8-17) where the shepherd comes one night to the Shulamite’s house and knocks on her door. She’s keeping warm and cosy indoors with her friends. He calls out to her to come and run with him over the mountains. It has been winter but now spring has come. She’s thrilled that he’s there; but… go with him into the night and up on the rugged mountains? No thank you! She stays; he leaves; and then she’s so disappointed that he’s gone.

Here in the UK, spring has begun. The days are getting longer; the flowers are coming out, and the birds are singing. For the past four or five months, I’ve got used to long, cold nights, settling down to a favourite book or TV programme.

We can sometimes go through what I call a ‘winter of the soul’. Everything seems dormant – nothing much happening on the spiritual front. It’s so easy to hunker down, get comfortable and stay put.

And then the Good Shepherd comes.

Everything in us wants Him to come and join us in our place of comfort, just as the Shulamite longed for her lover to come in to her. But, actually, His desire is the opposite: for us to go with Him at the time and place of His choosing. We so often feel like the Shulamite: Is it safe? Will He take me away from my cosiness to go with Him on ‘rugged mountains’? We forget that rugged mountains with Him are infinitely safer than a cosy fireside without Him. Somehow, our fear of ‘rugged mountains’ is overridden by the attractive safety of the fireside. We forget that, when we go with Him, no matter what the circumstances, we are one hundred percent safe.

There’s nothing wrong with those times of rest – those ‘winters’. But they’re not for ever. The Good Shepherd longs for us to respond to His call, “Come with me!” when He asks us to. Am I ready to respond to Him today? Do I truly trust Him to see me safely over whatever ‘rugged mountains’ I’ll need to cross today?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I declare that ‘You will protect those who trust in Your name’. I’m sorry for all the times I’ve been unwilling to leave my personal comfort zone and respond to Your call to follow You at the times and places of Your choosing. As You forgive me, would You please enable me to trust You to see me safely through the darkest night and over the toughest terrain – today and every day. Amen.

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The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name”.
Psalm 91:14, NLT


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Today's Writer

Richard Griffiths When Richard retired from full-time Anglican ministry in Chichester in 2009, he and his wife, Sue, moved to Northumberland. He joined the ministry team at Ellel Grange in 2011, where he and Sue regularly ministered at healing retreats. They are now helping on the "Explore" team. They greatly enjoy walking in the beautiful Northumberland countryside and along the coast. Richard loves seeing God bringing people into a strong personal relationship with Him as their Father and the healing that comes with it.

Richard Griffiths

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