The Comfort of Jesus’ Staff

As soon as we set out on our summer road-trip, the freedom got the best of me and I ran down a side path by myself. Have you ever done this?

It’s summer. I’m on the edge of being manic and am trying to pay attention — haven’t totally fallen off the edge and won’t, if I stay close to The Spirit. He knows how to deal with mania and how to use it to His glory. So I danced down this path that looked really interesting and then I was hit with a bad cold that made me stop and slow down. Even with the cold it’s taken a while to get back to the group.

So I left our group for reasons that I don’t understand. The sun was shining so bright. The birds were singing in the trees and there before me was a path that looked green and lush. So down it I went, thinking that I’d be right back, and in time the green lushness turned to dry brown leaves and ugliness. There was a stench in the air that just wasn’t right and I realized that I was by myself down this path. What? How on earth did this happen?

Boom! I got sick. I felt really yucky and then slowly, slowly, came back to feeling better. I am not at 100% yet, but almost there. And now I understand. The Spirit has shown me the picture. The experience has left me reeling.

The cold was the hook of Jesus’ staff. While I complained some, and fussed about it, in hindsight I see what He did and praise Him for it. Yay, God! He slowed me down when I ramped up and in doing so, He showed me several things that I had picked up along this path and put in my backpack. 

The staff of Jesus. A beautiful tool in the Hands of our Master. 

Phillip Kellor, in his book “A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23” said it clearly:

“The shepherd’s staff is normally a long, slender stick, often with a crook or hook on one end. It is selected with care by the owner; it is shaped, smoothed, and cut to best suit his own personal use.

Somehow the staff is of special comfort to the shepherd himself. In the tough tramps and during the long weary watches with his sheep, he leans on it for support and strength. It becomes to him a most precious comfort and help in his duties.

There are three areas of sheep management in which the staff plays a most significant role. The first of these lies in drawing sheep together into an intimate relationship. The shepherd will use his staff to gently lift a newborn lamb and bring it to its mother if they become parted. He does this because he does not wish to have the ewe reject her offspring if it bears the odor of his hands upon it.

…the staff is used by the shepherd to reach out and catch individual sheep, young or old, and draw them close to himself for intimate examination. The staff is very useful this way for the shy and timid sheep normally tend to keep at a distance from the shepherd.

The staff is also used for guiding sheep. Again and again I have seen a shepherd use his staff to guide his sheep gently into a new path or through some gate or along dangerous, difficult routes. He does not use it actually to beat the beast. Rather, the tip of the long slender stick is laid gently against the animal’s side and the pressure applied guides the sheep in the way the owner wants it to go. Thus the sheep is reassured of its proper path.

Being stubborn creatures sheep often get into the most ridiculous and preposterous dilemmas. I have seen my own sheep, greedy for one more mouthful of green grass, climb down steep cliffs where they slipped and fell into the sea. Only my long shepherd’s staff could lift them out of the water back onto solid ground.

Another common occurrence was to find sheep stuck fast in labyrinths of wild roses or brambles where they had pushed in to find a few stray mouthfuls of green grass. Soon the thorns were so hooked in their wool they could not possibly pull free, tug as they might. Only the use of the staff could free them from their entanglement.”

That last paragraph? Well, that was me. I am slowly coming back to life. My goodness, right out of the gate, running off like that. I don’t know what happened, did I figure on writing about that path? Eww…nothing there to write about. Anyway, just know that any path that you go down by yourself will prove awful. If Jesus doesn’t lead you there, don’t go!  As I pay attention to Christ I do hope to not do this again. I am taking all the nonsensical items that I collected for my backpack and removing them. They smell like the path I took them from, eww.

So today on our summer road trip, do you find yourself off on a strange path? When you look around do you see that you’ve also left the group and wandered off? I pray for you now, that God will stop you with His Shepherd’s staff. That bit of a nudge that you feel? That’s The Spirit touching you and guiding you to get back with the group. He will take that crook and actually pick you up – carrying you to where you are supposed to be. Allow Him to bring you back. Jesus catches us when we fall. Remember Peter? When he started to sink in the sea after walking out to Jesus, immediately beside him was The Lord, pulling him back up to safety!

Take this day and celebrate with The Spirit whether you have left the group or not. Celebrate the amazing truth that you can’t go anywhere at all without His Presence. When you get in the craziest places, there He is right beside you. Submit to the Shepherds staff. Let this day be a day of worship in your heart, praising the Only One who loves you enough to bring you back. He will never let you go; you never leave His sight. Wow…what amazing love!

Scripture to ponder: Psalm 23

Today’s weapon:  “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4