“You watch over me in the darkest valleys/ You watch over me when the night seems long/ You help me to see the way before me/ You watch over me”- Aaron Shust
“The LORD watches over you — the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”- Psalm 121:5,8 (NIV)
During my elementary years at Timothy Lutheran (Chicago), Crossing Guard Veronica’s faithful presence gifted the blessings of protection and comfort to our tight-knit school community. Veronica patrolled her high-traffic post at 83rd and Paulina before/after school as well as at lunchtime. In addition, she served as a liaison with Timothy’s student crossing guards.
Prepared for the inevitable playground bumps and bruises, Veronica kept first aid supplies, specifically Band Aids, on hand. Most noteworthy, though, God called Veronica to a ministry of presence. As a result, she always took time to talk with any student in need of a listening ear. Furthermore, she displayed a remarkable understanding of junior high kids, first crushes, and broken hearts.
Veronica kept her eyes on the Good Shepherd. Through the Holy Spirit, the Good Shepherd and His compassion lived in her soul. Therefore, she understood generously giving is like an enfolding ring. Ann Voskamp describes this enfolding in The Broken Way:
“It’s the presence of Christ who gives us every single gift. And the presence of Christ makes us into the gift given. There are no gifts in the world, given or received, without the presence of Christ. Christ gives the gifts to us, and then- He within us, indwelling us- gives the gifts through us to a beautiful and aching world.”
Similarly, earthly shepherd’s only concern for their sheep involves compassion and comfort. Thus, Ann Voskamp lists several ways shepherds use a staff to watch over their sheep. Shepherds:
- stick the rod into the ground and lean it away from the body, making a V
- wave for the sheep to come between their bulk and the leaning rod
- lay the rod out to guard the sheep
- make the rod an extension of their arm
However, to keep a stiff-necked sheep from running away, the shepherd may apply a brake, or weight, to that sheep’s leg. The brake stays until the wayward sheep recognizes the shepherd’s voice, learns never to be afraid, and trusts the master’s ways.
As we rest in the arms of Jesus, He brings healing to the brokenhearted. Ann encourages us with these closing words:
“The same hand that unwraps the firmaments of winging stars wraps liniments around the wounded heart; the One whose breath births galaxies into being births healing into the heart of the broken.”