My husband and I leave in a couple of days for Cyprus. I am feeling overwhelmed a bit by trying to prepare once again for another international trip. Don’t misunderstand. I love it once we get there, but getting there… the cleaning, washing, packing, setting things in order. so we can leave… The task seems daunting right now.
In fact, I feel like I am standing on the threshold of the whole year, looking down the narrow tunnel of what I know. It is like looking through a telescope that is not very powerful and colored with dark glass. I see a trips to Ethiopia, Cyprus, Israel, Germany, Kazakhstan, Italy, Syria, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. I imagine myself preparing for all those trips, making the long flights, dealing with jet lag, listening, reaching, teaching, praying, and then finally the reward… connecting with the precious people.
There is great joy in all of this. Still sometimes I long for another life. One that would allow me not to travel so much. At heart, I really am a homebody, and there is nothing I would rather do than stay in my home and write, do stain glass, cook, entertain, and make jewelry. I also take great pride in the art of homemaking and all that entails. I love my friends here… the community that surrounds us with love.
Traveling disrupts all of that.
I know it is selfish and silly, but today that is how I feel.
And in this singular selfish thought I am pondering a line I heard from a preacher once. He was praying over a pastor and his wife. He said, “The smell of sheep is upon you.” That statement really hit home with me. I could identify with that.
There is a separation that takes place when we are committed to the ministry and to pastoring in particular. Our goals must benefit the sheep. We must spend time with them and care for them. Our lives are intertwined with them.
In real life, I am sure shepherds smelled of the sheep and the outdoors. When they got around others, this could be offensive. Maybe it would be something a shepherd would be embarrassed of… after having been with the sheep all day and night… to come in and smell like sheep. But that smell meant he was putting his heart and soul into his task.
Tonight as I write this, I feel the smell of sheep upon me. I am separated from the world. I can’t live a life of luxury or just doing my own will. I must think about the sheep that I am called to… in other lands… where God has opened doors for us.
I must not be embarrassed that this smell is upon me. It is a sign of my calling. And as I pack my bags again, even though I feel faithless at times, I must press on as the Good Shepherd who cares for my own soul, without complaint or withdrawal.