Identity of a Sheep
Pursued and Tended by the Shepherd
It was about a year ago that I took the picture of this lamb. The framed photo sits on my desk in my office. The image captured a sense of connection - it drew my attention.
A couple weeks ago I finally sat down to draw the lamb and the hand that reached for her. To me, it represented the Divine Shepherd reaching for His sheep. Or perhaps it represented the lost lamb that was finally found by the shepherd. So I completed the black and white line drawing and shared it in my last blog post.
The Scriptures are filled with the story of God's pursuit of the human heart and individuals receptivity to God's "hesed" love, a love broad and sacrificial, enduring and drenched with mercy. Abraham was invited to journey, Hagar was seen in her suffering, Jacob wrestled with God and lived. Naaman was healed, Daniel influenced nations and kings, and Rahab was valued and rescued. Peter was called, Mary was noticed and affirmed, Martha was heard and befriended, Paul was confronted by God. They were all shaped by the love and mercy of God in their unique lives of suffering and blessing and divinely shaped personhood. Who would you add to the list... from the Scriptures, from history or today. What is your story of how God's love shapes your identity?
I wanted to color the image, but I wasn't sure how to proceed. I began by placing color washes in the background... almost immediately the image began to look messy and cluttered. But I kept putting paintbrush to paper.
I pondered the things that shape our perspective: our rebellion and our repentance. Those things that hook us, tempt us, and tug at our hearts. I considered the mathematical, formulaic, analytical ways we process - ways of thinking that are good, but incomplete. I thought of the tension between our perception of what is right and wrong, recognizing that only God can define what is truly good or evil. I thought about the tasks and "To Do" lists that engage our attention and time. The families and relationships that shape us, revealing truth or telling us lies. The failures and shame that haunt us. I considered the beauty that captures our hearts, and the desire to create, to influence, and to build. I thought about the many ways we say "yes" or "no" for good reasons and not so good reasons. As I placed words and images on the paper, the background became full.
But I wanted to bring attention to the Shepherd. The One who pursues, rescues, names, and tends each one of us. The human qualities and experiences are significant and part of the story by design.
But our identity runs deeper and is defined by the Triune God and his redemptive work. I couldn't include all the ways God has defined our identity on the page, but I named a few... Beloved, Chosen, Adopted, Friend, and Child of God. In so many ways this image points to a story of humanity's design and brokenness... and our redemption and transformation.
Meditation - Visio Divina
What would it be like to sit with the full color image and pray with it? Choose a time and space when you can pay attention, and find a quiet spot that serves you.
Allow yourself to settle and become still, attentive to the Spirit's presence. Perhaps choose a Scripture passage to launch your prayer.
What draws your attention in the image? Allow your heart to focus on that piece without analyzing or trying to figure it out? Be still.
How does that word or fragment of the drawing speak to your life today? How is the Shepherd reaching for your heart today?
What is God revealing to you about who He is and about who you are? Rest in God's presence.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
For we are God’s masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:10 NLT