Several years ago, Carolyn and I were driving up a mountain road into the Sawtooths when we came across a large band of sheep moving down the road toward us. A lone shepherd with his dogs was in the vanguard, leading his flock out of summer pasture into the lowlands and winter quarters.
We pulled to the side of the road and waited while the flock swirled around us—and watched them until they were out of sight.
I wondered: Sheep are the embodiment of all that is feeble and helpless. Do they fear change and new places?”
Like most old folks I like the “fold”—the old, familiar regimens Like Bilbo, the aging hobbit, “I miss my victuals at noon.” But all is shifting and changing these days; I’m being led out—away from familiar surroundings and into a vast unknown. I wonder: What new limits will overtake me this year? What nameless fears will wake? Jesus’ words come to mind: “When I lead my sheep out, I go before them (John 10:4).
I may be dismayed at what life has in store for me this year and next, but my shepherd knows the way I’m taking and He goes before. He will not lead me down paths too steep, too arduous for me; He knows my limits and will strike a leisurely pace. He knows the way to green pasture and good water. “He knows the way through the wilderness; all I have to do is follow.”
Thus I need not fear tomorrow, or take on its obligations, for tomorrow will take care of itself: Tomorrow “must pass through Him before it gets to me”
Doubt casts its weird, unwelcome shadows o’er me
Thoughts that life’s best and choice things are o’er.
What but His word can strengthen and restore me.
And this blessed fact: that still He goes before.
—J. Danson Smith