I've kept a picture for many years…40 to be exact. I drew it when I was just a little girl, and for some reason, only made clear to me today, I never threw it away.

When I was a child, I didn’t know much about God. I went to church, but, I never heard about His love for me or the incredible gift of salvation. You may wonder how that could be. I don’t really know, except that I grew up in a time and place where the tradition of attending church far outweighed the importance of being taught the Word. I think that makes where I am now in my relationship with the Lord all the more miraculous. Anyway, this morning God gave me a precious window into my past. I was reading my friend Joan Hall’s post from Reflections of His Grace. She wrote about verse 4 of the 23rd Psalm and I had a light bulb moment. All of a sudden I remembered the picture and how, when I was about 10 or 11 years old, I read about the 23rd Psalm in a book. It wasn’t the bible, but rather, a children’s story that referenced it.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: 
for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4, KJV). 

At that tender age, I had never experienced a true valley, but the words of the Psalm so moved me that I set out to memorize it. As I learned the Psalm, His words penetrated my heart.

The children’s book that I read also talked about a loving shepherd who had lost his sheep. He set out to find it and rejoiced when he did. It was then that I first felt the gentle tug from my true Shepherd, though I didn’t understand that until later. And, as children often do, I drew a picture about what was on my mind. It was a simple child’s rendering of the shepherd in the story finding his lost sheep.

After reading my friend’s devotional and God giving me the memory of that saved picture, I set out to find it. I spent quite a bit of time digging through the boxes in my garage and I finally found it, tucked away between some old records. As I gazed upon the simple drawing, I smiled. I could feel myself as that long ago child, with just the tiniest glimmer of understanding of who God was, and I grew emotional. I realized that the moment I drew that picture was the moment I first had a hint of understanding that I had a Shepherd who would seek after me if I became lost. As I held the precious picture in my hand, I flipped it over. There on the reverse were written these words in my childish writing, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost!” (Luke 15:6) 
How could I know, those many years ago, the journey I would take? I had no knowledge of suffering, pain or loss. I didn’t yet know what sin was nor how it separated us from our Father. And yet, I wrote those precious words from Him on the back of a drawing of a shepherd. Though I didn’t know the journey I would take in my life, God did. He knew the mistakes I would make, the valleys I would pass through and the mountains I would climb. But God chose me, as he chose you, to be in relationship with Him. I think that the reason I saved that picture, the only picture I saved from my childhood by the way, was because that was the moment that God’s indelible fingerprint first left its mark on me.

As I look at the picture now, I realize that God gave me a message through His Psalm and that childish drawing that I didn’t fully understand at the time. But now, as I look back over the journey I have taken with Him, I can see that my Shepherd loves and cares for me so much that He tirelessly pursued me until I was found…and now, I am safe in the Shepherd’s arms.

So thankful for my Shepherd,

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