CSEC ON-LINE REFERENCE LIBRARY
MARY H. CUMMINS
This is because the figure of the shepherd implies protection, and protection is that for which every individual longs, whether he is aware of this fact or not. The desire to be guided aright, to be saved from disaster and misfortune, or to be rescued from these when they overtake us, is surely hidden somewhere in every human heart, and it is this which has led hundreds, who found themselves wayworn and weary from life's journey, to find comfort in the twenty-third psalm. On page 578 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" Mrs. Eddy gives an exquisite interpretation of this psalm, which has come as a revelation to those who always loved it, as well as to those who were less familiar with its beautiful phrases; for now, for the first time, they learn how it is possible to know that the Shepherd is ever at hand.
The sheeplike tendencies of the unenlightened human mind have been frequently pointed out. This is evidenced in its readiness to become so engrossed in nibbling the luscious grass right under its nose that it is oblivious of all else; in its liability to be suddenly panic-stricken when danger threatens; and, perhaps, most of all in its inclination to follow blindly where another leads. It is proverbial that when one sheep jumps through a gap another will follow, and another, and another, until the whole flock has gone in the same direction. How often we have seen this repeated in human experience. One individual takes a course which seems to him desirable, and, mesmerized by his example, another follows. Others, looking through the gap through which these two have passed and seeing that the grass on the other side seems "pleasant to the eyes" and "good for food," hurry after them, with the result that before long hundreds are going in the same direction. Some of us, however, who have been either the leading sheep or one of those that followed, have found that the strip of grass which from a distance seemed so alluring, had an unaccountable way of shrinking when it was reached; moreover that it proved to be full of pitfalls; and not infrequently have we found ourselves disappointed and disillusioned, in fact, like the lost sheep of the Bible story, "sick and helpless and ready to die."
What an illuminating thought that was which first brought to us the assurance that the Good Shepherd was even then seeking us! Indeed, Christian Science reveals to us the wonderful fact that the Shepherd has always been seeking us, that His tender care and guidance are available for everyone, not alone to rescue from the quagmire of materiality, but to lead us to the green pastures of spiritual sustenance and beside the still waters of true contentment. What could anyone ask that would be more comforting than the certainty that divine Love is our Shepherd? Suppose we are passing a gap through which we catch a glimpse of a vista which to the senses seems alluring, and inclination urges us to turn in that direction. We have only to stand still where we are and listen for the Shepherd's voice; often, indeed, an instant's upward glance will be sufficient to warn us that that is not the way. Suppose we have unwittingly wandered into the stream of human desire, and find ourselves caught in the swift current of some temptation which threatens to sweep us off our feet. One look, one cry, and the strong hand of the Shepherd is outstretched to succor and to save. Or suppose a sudden storm of sorrow or of adversity seems to overtake us ah, then as we battle onward, how intently we listen for the Shepherd's voice, knowing that, although for the moment we may only dimly hear Him, He is there, very, very near, and that He will surely lead us out into light and sunshine again! There is no situation into which we can be brought, no wilderness, no storm, no danger, where the Shepherd's hand is not ready to rescue, to guide, and to restrain.
And if the protection and care of the Shepherd mean so much, what shall be said of the sweetness of His daily companionship? One of the tenderest and most intimate utterances of Christ Jesus is, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." Let us think for a moment what this means. It means that never again need we know loneliness, for at anytime and in any place we can listen for and hear the gracious acknowledgment, "I . . . know my sheep, and am known of mine." It means the ability to pour out in that abandonment which comes from the recognition that we are speaking to unbounded compassion all those needs and regrets and yearnings which we could never voice to even the nearest and dearest human ear. It means that, at every step we are called upon to take, we can know that Love goes on before. How often has our inmost need found expression in those lines of Mrs. Eddy (Poems, p. 14):
O'er the hillside steep.
How often, when faced by some apparently unscalable mountain, have we prayed that prayer and found ourselves safely guided, nay, actually carried in the arms of Love, so that we never noticed that the hillside was steep at all! What a debt of gratitude we owe to our Leader, who has shown us how it is possible to have the Shepherd thus at hand, and how assiduously we ought to seek to emulate her loving obedience, expressed in the same hymn:
Lest my footsteps stray.
For it is only as we momently listen for the Shepherd's voice that we are able to say, trustingly and confidently,
All the rugged way.
Christian Science Sentinel, January 10, 1920
| Home | Library |
© 1996-2008 CSEC
Copyright © 1996-2008 CSEC