The story is told of two young ministers in the nineteenth century walking in Snowdonia. High on the mountain they met a young shepherd boy who had impaired hearing and was illiterate. They explained that Jesus wanted to be his shepherd, who would always look after him as he, the boy, looked after his sheep. They taught him to repeat the words, ‘The Lord is my shepherd’ (Psalm 23:1), using the fingers and thumb of his right hand to help him remember, starting with his thumb and then a finger for each word. They told him to pause at the fourth word ‘my’, and remember, ‘this psalm was meant for me’. A few years later, one of them was passing through that same village and asked after the shepherd boy. The previous winter there had been terrible storms and the boy had died on the hills, buried in a snowdrift. The villager who was telling the story said, ‘There was one thing, however, that we didn’t understand. When his body was discovered he was holding the fourth finger of his right hand.’
I have no idea if that story is true or not but its message is powerful. The God who created the universe longs to draw close to us.
When I was 13 years of age I was sitting in a Biology lesson in Pontardawe, Swansea and the teacher assured the class that science had adequately disproved the existence of God! A few nights later I found myself on the mountain behind our home looking up at the sky. The words of the teacher kept running through my mind … ‘There is no God!’ As I lay on my back staring up at billions of stars something deep within me said … nope … can’t accept that! I didn’t believe that this ‘just happened’ I believed there was someone … something behind it all. Then I remember thinking if someone had made all of this … could I know them? That was a significant moment in my search for God.
Two years later, again on a Welsh mountain not far from Dolgellau I knelt down beside my bed and cried out to God. I longed to know him. The Bible which had become very precious to me by this time spoke of a God who came close to those who draw close to him. I wanted his closeness more than anything else. As I knelt there, crying out to him … he came! I find it difficult to put into words the joy that filled my body. It is the most profound experience of my life. Not only did I believe there was a divine creator behind the cosmos for the first time I had met with him and he with me … I knew him personally! Like the shepherd boy I know him as ‘my’ shepherd. I still find it emotional writing about this 40 years on. The impact he has had on my life of course has been huge.
In a few days we will be celebrating Easter. Why do we do that? Because it is at Easter we remember the lengths God went to, to restore a relationship with us. This is how the Bible puts it: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16,17
Would you like the Lord to be your shepherd? If so can I encourage you to do a couple of things? Start reading the New Testament, perhaps start with the Gospel of John. Secondly start attending church. You will receive a warm welcome at St Denys, Thornhill Church, Llanishen Baptist or ourselves.