It has almost been three weeks since my return from Israel. It was an experience of a lifetime. As I reflect through my notes and photographs I am in awe of all that I experienced. I have many things I want to share with you.
One moment in particular, that touched me deeply and has given me a deeper appreciation and love for my husband, is a lesson we had on September 29, 2011, we were sitting in the Ephraim field. This is an area where Joseph and Mary would have passed through on their way to Bethlehem. Dr. Jim Martin, our professor and guide, began our discussion with the history of marriage contracts; specifically the betrothal between Joesph and Mary. This led into another conversation about Shepherds and Hirelings and the scripture passage of John 10:11-18.
The role of a Shepherd is not one to be taken lightly, similar to the role of a husband. Shepherds spend quality time with their sheep. They make sure that the sheep know their voice and they develop a deep sense of trust with their Shepherd. Shepherds create a sense of belonging for the sheep. Shepherds make sure all of the needs of the sheep are met (food, shelter, and protection). Shepherds affirm and encourage their sheep. Shepherds lead by example. A Shepherd is willing to place his life in the face of danger to protect his sheep. A Shepherd does whatever it takes to keep the sheep from getting lost, stolen, or eaten by prey. A Shepherd is consistent and always has the sheep's best interest in mind.
The role of a Hireling is stay at the back of the fold and keep the sheep from wandering. Often, to keep the sheep moving along and inside the fold, the Hireling will throw stones at the sheep. This keeps the sheep from connecting with the Hireling, as they never know what his motive is. To the Hireling it is simply a job that he has to do. He doesn't give love and affection to the sheep because he is not emotionally invested in them. Sheep see the Hireling as aggressive and dominate. They do not trust that the Hireling will consistently protect them. The sheep instinctively know that the Hireling does not have their best interest in his mind and heart.
As our discussion continued I began to cry, as I realized in my attempt to find a solution for all of the guilt, shame, and fear that I had early on in my life, that my first marriage was the choice of a Hireling and my second marriage is to a Shepherd. I am grateful that my husband loves me. I know his voice. I know his motives. I know he is always looking out for my (and our family's) best interest. I appreciate how he makes sure all of my needs are met. He encourages and supports me and leads by example. My shepherd, my husband, loves me well and I do not have to second guess his motives.
*the photo was taken in Jerusalem...it is a Shepherd leading his sheep