Folding your Flock
“And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel” (Matthew 2:6 ESV).
One of the most beautiful revelations of God is that He is our Shepherd. He is our personal Shepherd and He is the Great Shepherd of His flock--His people Israel and the church. Not only is He our Shepherd, but of all the animals God created, He chose to call us His sheep—and a sheep cannot survive without a shepherd.
The Chief Shepherd wants to shepherd His precious flock through His under shepherds. He raises up shepherds to watch over His flock, the church. 1 Peter 5:1-2 exhorts the elders to “Feed the flock of God which is among you… being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” And also Acts 20:28 which says, “Feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” The word “feed” means a lot more than giving food to eat. The word is polmaino, which involves the full responsibility of the shepherd—leading them to nourishment, but also guiding, guarding, tending, and folding the flock.
When Jesus spoke to Peter after His resurrection, He exhorted him three times, “Feed my lambs… Feed my sheep… Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). The first and last exhortation to “feed” literally means to feed. However, the second time Jesus said these words he used polmaino, the word that means the fullness of shepherding.
I love the term, “folding the flock,” don’t you? In biblical times the shepherd folded his flock each night. He counted each one and made sure they were all in the fold, safe and secure from any wild beasts. He often slept in the opening of the fold to protect his sheep. During the day, he watched over them constantly with his rod and staff, and led them to green pastures.
God also wants you, as a shepherding mother, to fold your flock. One of the biggest things you do as a shepherdess is feed your children. That’s what sheep do all day long--eat! They rarely lift their heads from eating grass! Now do you wonder why God calls us sheep? Don’t think you are wasting your time when you seem to be preparing meals all day! This is a huge part of your shepherding.
But you do more than prepare meals. You tenderly nurture your flock. You gently shepherd as you nurse your baby and lovingly teach and train your little ones. But, you are not only a sweet caring mother. You are also courageous! You have the enormous task of protecting their minds, souls and spirits (1 Thessalonians 5:23). You are guarding them from evil—from all deceptions, delusions, and the detours from God’s paths that are everywhere in this society. When the enemy comes stalking your children you are like a wild watchwoman as you grab your child from the jaws of the destroyer. That’s what David, the shepherd of Israel did. Such was his courage that He would grab a ferocious lion by the beard and rescue his lamb from its mouth (I Samuel 17:34-36).
The farming shepherd works hard and sacrifices for his sheep because he loves them. Shepherding involves laying down our life for our lambs. Dear mother, you are doing a beautiful work each day as you reveal God’s shepherding heart to your family.
Shepherding is so much part of who God is that He continues to shepherd us even in the eternal realm. Revelation 7:15-17says, “He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed (polmaino) them, and shall led them unto living fountains of waters and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
God will never stop folding His flock. Because He is the Chief Shepherd, He will continue folding us throughout all eternity, leading us continually to greener and greener pastures and fountains of living waters. We will be totally satisfied and contented sheep, and yet always being led to more and more delightful pastures.
Do you notice that He is not only the Shepherd, but also the Lamb—the Lamb that was slain and who bears the marks of our salvation in His body. And although He sits on the throne, He also dwells with us and enjoys the eternal days with us. He is now, and always will be, the “dwelling” Shepherd who loves to dwell with us and be part of our lives.
You also, as a shepherdess will always want to be with your sheep, to dwell with them, and to be part of their lives. Even an earthly shepherd would not take a lamb away from its mother or take the lamb out of the family flock. In the same way, a shepherd mother cannot part with her little lamb, even for a few hours. As they continue to grow, she still wants them around her to enjoy them and teach them in God’s ways.
Don’t only observe your flock. Fold them into your heart. Fold them into your secure and godly home. Fold them day and night. Fold them in to your daily prayers.