The Zig-Zag Pattern of Shalom

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“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11 KJV

J_Osheta

My favorite images of Jesus are of him as Shepherd. While I’m moved to humility when I see him on the cross, challenged to make waves where there is injustice, calmed when I see him standing on the boat commanding the storm to be still, and inspired to have eyes for the hungry—both spiritually and physically—I’m never more sure of my devotion to Jesus than when I see him as Shepherd.

I love the intimacy between sheep and Shepherd, I guess.

I think about the young David, rejected and misunderstood by his family, singing songs in the field surrounded by his sheep to soothe their anxieties, and I can’t help but see Jesus as my portion of peace. I think about King David and how angry he got at the prophet’s story about the man whose only, precious sheep was taken by his neighbor, not to be loved, but devoured as party fare and it makes me think that Jesus gets equally enraged when his innocent children are devoured by a greedy world. When I think about Jesus as my Great Shepherd, I am reminded of the Isaiah passage. I can’t help but envision Jesus feeding, gathering, carrying, and gently leading.

Suddenly, being a Christian feels less like a to-do list of righteousness and more of a to-be posture of relationship. I want to be open to his feeding and present for his gathering. I want to be accepting of his gentle leading and willing to be carried.

As I write this, I am two weeks into a six-week separation from my husband. He recently accepted an associate pastor position in Los Angeles and since our family is based and bred in Boston, we decided a “staggered move” would be best—one where he leaves at the beginning of the year to get acclimated to the area and his new job, then comes back to get us for a 10-day cross country road trip before we start our lives in LA. We wanted to give the kids a chance to experience their last snow day and gather their friends together for one last goodbye. I wanted the chance to finally walk around Walden Pond and read something, anything, by Henry David Thoreau—a New England Dream I’ve never “had the time” to actualize.

When asked during our interview for the position if this was what we really wanted we were confident. Maybe, naively so.

“Osheta’s the most resourceful woman I know,” my husband promised.

“I want TC to have as smooth of a transition as possible,” I added.

And it was settled. A week later, the pastor called us and told my husband that he got the job. In less than two months, he’d be flying from Boston, leaving his job as a teacher for proven-risk teens to become a pastor of a church adjacent to Skid Row.

The kids and I watched him drag two suitcases through the sliding doors at the airport—one devoted to, and bulging with, all the books he couldn’t stand to leave—and my daughter immediately said, “Mama, you’re going to miss him.”

It was true. The sense of loss was almost tangible.

My partner and the other half of me—the man who holds me when I’m spinning out and listens to me verbally process the grocery list—was gone for the next few weeks. Between Skype and the iPhone, long distance relationships are easier and harder, at the same time. They make for an incomplete and an already-but-not-yet way of relating to your lover, with towers and streaming services as your mediator.

Which is why these past couple of weeks I’ve been leaning into Jesus as my Shepherd.

I feel so lost sometimes. Some mornings, I just look with cautious amazement at the three babies for whom, at least for the next month and a half, I’m completely responsible. It’s a daunting endeavor traversing this new ground as sole caretaker, distant partner and soon-to-be pastor’s wife. So much so, that I’m starting to worry if I’m good enough, if I’ll make the right choices, or if I might scar these babies for life.

But then, I think about the sheep. They don’t know the path on which they are going and yet they follow their Shepherd.

They don’t know the best way to navigate the rocky terrain, or negotiate the expansive valleys, or overcome potential threats. And that’s ok. That’s the Shepherd’s job.

As I remember this, I sigh with relief. It’s God’s job—and I would venture to say, His joy—to be our Great Shepherd, our Beloved Gatherer.

I’m shouldering these babies, but I know who is shouldering me.

So, every day, my Sheep’s prayer to her Shepherd is:

“Jesus, Shepherd me with your love. Lead me as a lamb with her young, gently towards places of nourishment. I’m pregnant with hopes and dreams, fear and anxieties, failures and worries, vision and passion. I’m full to term and you see me, I know you see me. You’re a good Shepherd aware that I’m groaning under the weight of it all. Feed me with peace. Satisfy me with patience. Deliver me with love. Gather me to your heart so that I can hear its truest beat. I want to walk behind your zig-zag pattern of Shalom, so today, I will listen into you. Then my young, who know my voice, will follow and we will make progress, Lord. Progress, as we move From Boston to LA; progress, as we move from our brokenness into wholeness; progress, as we trample the thistles and brambles of injustice following You, our Good, Great, and Lovely Shepherd.”

Amen.

_______________

Image credit: Peer Lawther

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Osheta Moore
Osheta Moore is an Anabaptist-y, stay-at-home mom right in the thick of moving her family from Boston to Los Angeles . She's passionate about racial reconciliation, peacemaking, and community development in the urban core. At the top of her bucket list is dance in a flash mob—all the better if it's to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" or Pharrell's "Happy." Catch up with Osheta on her blog, Shalom in the City.
Osheta Moore
Osheta Moore

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  • Pingback: The Zig Zag Pattern Of Shalom: Guest Post at SheLoves | Osheta Moore()

  • Inspired Life

    Yes sister lean into Him. That verse is one of my favorite and reminds me that He gently leads those with young so continue to follow Him as you hold your 3 little ones close to your bosom allowing Jesus to gently lead you into paths of righteousness for His namesake.

    • Thank you so much for your encouraging words.

  • It’s a privilege to share your journey through your posts, Osheta! Thanks for inviting us into the excitement and the trepidation of such a major life transition. I love the imagery as Jesus as shepherd. It’s a great reminder as I embark on even the smaller, daily tasks of raising my little one.

  • Anne-Marie

    This is beautiful, Osheta. Especially your prayer at the end. We are re-embarking on a life together at the other end of raising children. These big transitions – aiya! Not so easy.

    • AIYA is the perfect sentiment. Not easy at all, but with God all things are possible. Today, I’m praying the prayer over myself, my babies, and you Anne-Marie! Thank you for commenting.

  • HBurns

    What a gorgeous post …. I love your heart and the way you express it. All the best in the days ahead as you start your new adventure. xo

    • Oh, thank you so much! This is an adventure and one we’re so excited to take, but it can be overwhelming. I’m glad that sharing my story has touched your heart. Many blessings, today!

  • Sarah Joslyn

    I know I already said this to you, but I needed this post this week. Thank you, Osheta.

    • You’re welcome, Sarah. I’m praying for you this week. I’m glad you were encouraged.

  • Holly

    The idea that it is God’s JOY to be our Shepherd and our Beloved Gatherer? That is HUGE for me. That is a concept that I need to sit with for a long time. Bask in it, actually. Thank you for your insights and your honesty. It is so wonderful to have your voice here.

    • Yeah, I have to bask in that too because I think I’m too much of a hot mess for God to actually enjoy, but he does he is our portion and we are his.

  • Thank you for this post, Osheta, beautiful words. I think it’s a really good, practical idea to do a ‘staggered move’ to accommodate your whole family’s needs, but I love how you’ve made it into a metaphor for our life journey – that we stagger forward mostly, some going on ahead of us, others slowly trailing behind, a couple of steps forward, sometimes taking backward steps. It’s certainly true of my own life. Thank you for giving us permission to zig zag our way to shalom. Straight paths are too boring, anyway.

    • Thank you, Cindy. We really thought long and hard about that decision. Wow, I love the imagery of your thoughts, we’re staggering at different paces towards our wholeness. Straight ways are WAYY boring!

  • It is so wonderful to have you here, Osheta. There is such wisdom here, in your words, and I needed it today. Thank you. And I have a feeling you are going to rock this solo mama thing, and those babies will be scarless! 🙂

    • I’m so happy to be here and thank you Michaela- I’m hoping my babies will be scarless and full of happy memories during this transition!

  • “Suddenly, being a Christian feels less like a to-do list of righteousness and more of a to-be posture of relationship.” Love this, Osheta. Your praise of the great Shepherd moves me to worship, too.

    Also, LA!!! I am sure you’re going to be WAY busy with a new life and a move, but I’ll be about 90 minutes south of you. Just saying 🙂

    • Also, so SO happy to see your voice here 😉

      • Heather, Promise me we can have coffee when I get to LA in March? Please. I can’t wait to hear your real voice. And I’m so glad my post was meaningful to you.

        • yes! email me 🙂 I might be traveling in the first part of the month but we’ll make it work…pinky swear!

        • Or actually, I’ll make a note to email you…since you’ll be MOVING.

  • This is lovely, Osheta. You are certainly resourceful and resilient! The image of the Shepherd is one of my favourites too. So happy you are here!

    • Thank you, Idelette. It really is an honor to write for your amazing readers.

  • You are doing good, Mama. More than good. Amazing. Packing is not for the faint-hearted. Mercy!

    It’s so exciting to follow along on your journey. Can’t wait to hear more as you make this transition.

    Love seeing your name among some of my favourite women. I hope you feel like you fit right in! Let us know if there is anything we can do/pray for/help with to make your transition smoother in this season, k?

    *tight hugs*

    xoxox

    • Thank you for the hugs- seriously! I had a girlfriend text me yesterday asking how I’m doing, and I wrote back, “I NEED HUGS”. I so hope I can get through these last couple of weeks of separation and packing with a good sense of humor and a daily portion of peace. Thank you for welcoming me to SheLoves- I’m so happy to be here sharing this part of my journey with the lovelies.

  • Bev Murrill

    Osheta, you are one amazing woman. I know what it is to move from everything I know to everything I don’t know… and with kids. It’s easier than you think, and harder than you think, and both of those for reasons you won’t even realise until you’re living those reasons out.

    I know this about you from reading your words at times, that you are a.maz.ing. YOur capacity is huge and your strength is undeniable. This will change your life and you will be stronger and more empowering because of this move. Other people will be changed because you came into their world.

    Your life is stepping up a gear, and LA won’t know what’s hit it!

    • Oh, Bev! I’m speechless. These words of confidence and encouragement are exactly what I needed. Thank you for the gift of this message.