One day, my family and I left our home in McDonough, Georgia for an outing to look at some puppies for sale in Plains, the birthplace of President Jimmy Carter. It was March, 1992, and we had told our youngest daughter that she could have a Jack Russell terrier. We had found them to be quite expensive and were told by a breeder that a rat terrier was just as good and a lot cheaper! We bought the cutest little rat terrier and took turns holding him all the way home. We named him Jimmy because of his famous hometown.
Jimmy was a quick learner and could soon perform many tricks. He fit in well with our household
routine and became a beloved part of our family. even though he was blind for the last two of his seventeen years and eventually could no longer walk.
At last the time had come to say good bye. Soon, I found myself sitting on the stainless steel exam table while the vet put a shunt into his leg. She told me she would first put him into a gentle, deep sleep and return in fifteen minutes. I held him in my arms as his head drooped and his final rest began.
As I held my friend close to my heart a thought came to me and I prayed “Dear Jesus, when my time comes to die, regardless of the circumstances, help me to remember that You are holding me in Your arms!” Then the vet came back and pushed the plunger. Moments later I felt a distinct thud in Jimmy’s chest and he was gone.
This experience has resulted in a life-long lesson for me. I firmly believe that my prayer will be answered, even if I were to be in the midst of a prolonged and painful death. But this lesson also has a wide application for all of us. No matter what comes to us before we die, we have the scriptural assurance that Jesus is our Good Shepherd and that we are His sheep, held close to His chest and embraced with His love!
The prophet Isaiah tells us, “Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arms He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom.”(40:11) And the apostle John adds this: “I am the Good Shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (10:11)
This is a good reminder for every Christian. With Jesus as our Good Shepherd we can face any circumstance with courage and hope and trust in Him. In these scary days, I have had to remind myself that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He will take us through. If you are personally dealing with fear, I highly recommend a good dose of daily scripture beginning with Psalm 91. Then look up some verses like these:
Joshua 1:9 “be not afraid”
Psalm 27:3 “My heart shall not fear”
Psalm 27:14 “Be strong, and let thy heart take courage”
Psalm 46:1 and 2 “God is our refuge and strength…therefore will we not fear”
With our natural fears under the control of the Holy Spirit, we must also pray for those who are sick and dying, and for our President and State Governors to make the right decisions. We trust that in this pandemic many people will wake up and acknowledge God. A great revival could be the result. God Himself is sovereign over every such catastrophe!
May you find your heart at peace, encouraged and strengthened on this Sabbath as you rest in the arms of the Good Shepherd.