The Good Shepherd
There is a hymn that moves me each time I hear it. It is called “Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd.” Even when I first joined the Mormon church (officially called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), I noticed this hymn.
The melody called to me; its beautiful lilting shape comforted me with its 6/4 time signature (feeling like a gentle waltz). Yet not only the melody was (and is) beautiful to me. The text was just as amazing. Here are some sample lines:
“Dear to the heart of the Shepherd,
Dear are the sheep of his fold;
Dear is the love that he gives them,
Dearer than silver or gold.”
(Hymn #221 Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd)
Are those words not inspiring … and oh, so truthful!
Later on in the hymn we read:
“Some from the pastures are straying,
Hungry and helpless and cold.
See, the Good Shepherd is seeking,
Seeking the lambs that are lost” (Ibid.).
How this hymn comforts my heart on dark and dreary days. I don’t know about you, but there are times when I wander, disconsolate and adrift in my purpose on this earth.
But all I need to is to hum a few stanzas from this hymn, “Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd,” and a spirit of peace begins to enter in to my heart. My soul returns to seeking guidance from the true Shepherd.
Not only does the Good Shepherd, our dear Savior Jesus Christ love the ninety-nine sheep that stay within his fold, but He concerns Himself with those who stray – whether because of mistakes or even through their deliberate, willful choices.
How this comforts me as a parent! To know that the Lord cares for my children – most likely more than I do! He watches over them. He hears those who earnestly call him. He responds to those who tenderly plead to Him for rescue.
He will do this for them; He will do this for you; He has done this for me. And I am most grateful.
There is a scripture that is a perfect companion to the lyrics of “Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd.” It is found in the New Testament in Luke 15: 4-6:
“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
“And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
“And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost” (Luke 15:4-6).
How comforting to know factually about the Good Shepherd; but even better, how awesome it is actually to know the Good Shepherd. He cares about you; He cares about your family and friends, as He does mine.
He will rescue those who are lost, when the time is right.