Voices Low and Gentle
"The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness." — Proverbs 16:31:
I read Old John Keble's meditation for the "25th Sunday after Trinity" this morning and thought of you folks that shepherd God's flock. Here are Keble's thoughts and my glosses:
Pride of the dewy morning!
The swain's experienced eye
From thee takes timely warning,
Nor trusts the gorgeous sky.
For well he knows, such dawnings gay
Bring noons of storm and shower,
And travelers linger on the way
Beside the sheltering bower.
Country folk know that bright, beautiful mornings can deteriorate and become clouded with "storm and shower." They don't presume that a day that begins well, will end well.
E'en so, in hope and trembling
Should watchful shepherd view
His little lambs assembling,
With glance both kind and true;
'Tis not the eye of keenest blaze,
Nor the quick-swelling breast,
That soonest thrills at touch of praise-
These do not please him best.
Good Shepherds are delighted when God's "little lambs" make a good beginning, but must wait and watch over them as they mature and never presume that they will ever grow beyond the point where they will no longer need pastoral care.
But voices low and gentle,
And timid glances shy,
That seem for aid parental
To sue all wistfully,
Still pressing, longing to be right,
Yet fearing to be wrong,
In these the Pastor dares delight,
A lamb-like, Christ-like throng.
These in Life's distant even
Shall shine serenely bright,
As in th' autumnal heaven
Mild rainbow tints at night,
Sheep, as they grow older, still long ("sue") for parental, pastoral care. Good shepherds will take delight in those aging sheep that are pressing, longing for righteousness at "life's distant even."
We take delight in young folks and their spiritual progress. In our enthusiasm for these lambs, however, we may think that older, more mature sheep, having made a good beginning, can make it on their own.
But the hardest tests often lie in the "even" of our lives. Older believers, though well established in their faith, remain "a lamb-like throng." They will always need a loving pastor to help them run the race with endurance and finish well.
Let's not forget them.