The Bridegroom, The Shepherd

When I speak with women – women who are my friends, my family, my students, co-workers – there is always a consensus that the act of giving up control of little and big things is a daily, ongoing battle. Having a child has only emphasized that I have NO CONTROL over anything.

No matter what strategies I try I cannot make Evie take a longer nap.

No matter how careful I am, she is going to come into contact with germs and get sick.

No matter how many times I clean up the house, it is guaranteed to look like a Toys R Us, a Laundromat and a baby food factory all exploded at the same time!

But even though I can fully acknowledge that I can’t control these things, I still carry the burden of needing to run a fruitful, organized house and raising a well-rested and healthy daughter.

I feel the same burden in ministry. My students’ personal lives, spiritual lives, the health of our chapter, and the campus as a whole – these are all things I want to control. It is hard not to let it affect me when I see students struggling, or when Jon and I can identify something harmful to the chapter or individuals but can’t change it.

These are my sheep, after all. Or are they?

The role of caring for them can quickly turn into a need to control them and control the circumstances surrounding their lives. Just like raising and nurturing Evangeline can quickly turn into a need to control her nap times (among other things).

It is difficult to find the balance between taking up the roles that God has called me to as a mother and as a staff worker and feeling like the failure or success of those roles lies solely on my shoulders.

The reality is that although I am caring for God’s sheep, both my students and my little girl, it is He who is the Great Shepherd. Not I.

John the Baptist shares this truth with his disciples in John 3:
“A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

I am not the one with sheep. Jesus is.

I am not the one with a bride. Jesus is.

My students are the bride of Christ. Evangeline is the bride of Christ.

While I am so blessed that I get to participate in God’s work in raising a child and in caring for college students, rather than controlling (or having the illusion of control) I must decrease, and He must increase. He must become greater, and I must become less.

When I am creating bible studies, teaching, nurturing, cleaning, pastoring and discipling – I want God’s fingerprints, not my own, to be all over my students’ lives and my little girl’s life.

My prayer is that God would help me to give up control to Him, and allow Him to be the Great Shepherd and me to be a faithful steward of what He has lent to me.

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