2018 Year-End Update from Carrie

“Do you mind if I smoke?” wonders the guy next to me today. If only every vice came with such social obligation – “No, do you mind if I eat the 19 grams of sugar in this giant cinnamon roll?” What mirage of modernity lets us believe that – aside from the occasional shared airspace – we are individuals living entirely unto ourselves with our choices?

As you might guess, that delusion doesn’t last long in a house with six humans. Between educating the people and keeping all the moving parts in order, we live or die each day on “flock dynamics.” One guy’s shenanigans can derail the whole lot, faster than you can yell “PHYSICS!”

My grandpa kept sheep when I was young, and from what I can tell, shepherding the human species is not all that different, though perhaps more verbal. (I don’t recall Pappy Eddie bellowing, “Nothing in or out of your face holes!” or “Stop licking the airport!”)

It feels appropriate that I have been chewing on Psalm 23 this fall (with the help of Dallas Willard’s book, Living Without Lack) and some thoughts strike me about this business of my own being shepherded by the Lord.

Chicken licker.
The chicken licker

First of all, the sheep clearly don’t get to be in charge, for good reason. Of the six hens in our backyard flock, one is a chronic fence jumper. I explain to her often that the concept of “free range” appeals to me as well, but after trying it for over a year, I made an executive decision. Chickens “limited” to a shady, predator-safe 20×30 chicken yard happily doing chicken things are better off than chickens “free” to stand for hours on my hot patio being hawk bait while they lick the screen door. In my own walk with the Lord, the concept of his good, freeing boundaries rails hard against my very American tendency to equate freedom with unrestrained autonomy.

No actual shepherd, especially in the Psalmist’s times, ever raised sheep for pets.

But there’s another reason the Good Shepherd metaphor has always felt unsettling: ultimately, the sheep have to die. No actual shepherd, especially in the Psalmist’s times, ever raised sheep for pets. They serve a purpose, and they are slaughtered at the shepherd’s own hand. How can I trust a shepherd who might choose something scary and unpleasant for me?

The image of my Pappy with his sheep helps tremendously; Like the Lord with us, he was tender, involved, meticulous, and clearly loved them. But come April, the lambs went to market.

Ezra is the star of our home school co-op.

As we’ve been plowing through the Old Testament with our homeschool co-op this year, it’s been hard to miss the beauty and scandal of the sacrificial lamb imagery against the backdrop of Israel’s stupidity and rebellion. Three years of keeping chickens primes me to know of caring deeply for thankless creatures; nothing will ever prime me to want to become a chicken!

Why can we trust Jesus as our shepherd? Because this Good Shepherd became a sheep and led the way to slaughter! I can safely die to the Lord’s purposes for me because he went first, and rose again! The death of Jesus is evidence that our God is good and loves us beyond measure; the resurrection is evidence that He is in absolute authority over the universe. Whatever he has in mind is best then, even if it offends my “sheep” sensibilities.

This reality hits home for us this season heading into the holidays, when so many friends and family have lost loved ones, or hit rough waters and big unknowns. Even amid the compounding “flock dynamics” of sin and sorrow in our world, Jesus our Good Emmanuel Shepherd is alive and at work, leading his church together around the globe, as we follow him not just into green pastures of quiet personal abundance, but into death itself and new resurrected community life!

As Jayson wraps up a few months of fund-raising and sharing the vision for the JESUS film full time and what God is doing around the world, this is so evident to us. The lost are being added to the flock in the most unexpected places, even in the midst of persecution. What a crazy thing to be a part of!

During our period of fund-raising this year, we experienced a financial short-fall of about $5000 that would help us finish the year fully funded. If the Lord would lead you toward a special end of the year gift, it would put tremendous wind in our sails going into 2019, as would your continued prayers for Jayson’s team, our neighborhood, and our family. In any case, we would love to hear from you also.

Thank you for your continued prayers for Jayson’s team, our neighborhood, and our family. We would love to hear from you also. Drop us a line and let us know how we can be praying for you in the new year

Much Love!

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Supplementary Materials: Family Photos

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