The rod and the staff were the two tools of vigilant shepherds. The rod was a defensive weapon wielded against predators, while the staff was for the correction and restoration of fallen or wandering sheep. Distressed sheep would find comfort in the Shepherd’s gentle tap of the staff, tenderly reminding it of his nearness and protection. At other times the Shepherd used the crook of his staff to draw the wandering sheep back to the right path of safety.

Is your soul at rest today, finding comfort in God’s protection and care for you? Sometimes I find myself struggling to rest in the Spirit’s vigilant watch over me in the dark places of my life. Then the loving tap of the Shepherd’s staff at my side reminds me that He is near and will be faithful to guide me through the valley.

Years ago, my family had the privilege of welcoming several children into our hearts and lives through foster care. Since significant neglect was a common reality for most of them before coming to live in our home, establishing a sense of safety and security was our primary focus in the first days and weeks. Bedtime, mealtime and playtime routines all needed to be introduced. New behaviors needed to be learned. Correction was sometimes needed.

Who could blame these little ones for not being quick to trust that our intentions were good, or that we would protect them? They had learned not to trust and didn’t understand healthy boundaries.

So, there were tantrums, and angry rages, and tears.

Then slowly, they began to settle into the care of our home. They began to trust that we would not leave them or let them go hungry. They learned that our rules helped to keep them safe and healthy.

There was a sweetness in watching them gradually settle in and find comfort in our home. They had learned that we could be trusted to provide the loving care they needed.

Do you find comfort in the correction and guidance that God’s Word provides? Are you learning to trust that God will be faithful to work through the circumstances of your life to make you more like Jesus?

How have you seen the Lord as a good and loving Shepherd whose every intention toward you is good?

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