Shepherd on Horseback: Guarding Against Fear and Hopelessness


horseback shepherd shee cowboy trail crop DSC_0122When I was a child we received official government pamphlets in the mail that frightened me. They showed red circles, like ripples, over a map of a city. The closer you lived to the center of the circles the more likely you would die from the inevitable nuclear holocaust about to be dropped on our northern Canadian city.

“It’s because of the oil and pipelines,” I heard the adults say. “They make us a target.”

I remember what it was like to be raised in an atmosphere of fear by a generation scarred by memories of WWII and The Depression. I was a powerless child who felt responsible for stopping the bomb. I was part of the generation who could not trust authority because, after all, it was “the good guys” who dropped the bomb the first time. There was no hope for the world. As young adults we sought escape in self-indulgent sexual activity and recreational drugs. We questioned the wisdom of bringing children into such a world.

The great world-ending event never happened in my parent’s lifetime — not that it couldn’t have happened, but it didn’t. Thus far it has not happened in mine, nor in my adult children’s. In fact, we enjoy a higher standard of living than my parents or grandparents did.

When I read about the history of various faith movements that went off the rails after a generation or two, the same factors keep showing up: the exploitation of power, and fear of the end of the world — situations where people cast aside discernment and agreed to rash actions because of the “extenuating circumstances.”

This morning I read a poll asking for people’s reactions to the impending end of the world due to climate change and the carbon mess my admittedly self-focussed generation brought down upon our heads. The poll gave these options. Essentially they were:

1) We will soon be doomed.  2) We’re doomed now.  3) Maybe the people who created the problem could be trusted to fix it? 4) Never mind. We’re doomed.

I listen to my grandchildren who tell me, with desperation in their voices, that their teachers say the world will end in twelve years because of carbon emissions and plastic pollution. A young friend talked about the “immorality” of giving birth to another generation born to certain death.

I recognize the same net that held me captive for so many years: fear.

The reasons for concern could be true. The reasons for hopelessness are not.

If we fail to consult the Creator, who understands his creation much better than we do, we are left feeling like the helpless children of the sixties reading the red circle pamphlets. They were burdened with responsibility without authority. When we try to solve the problem all by ourselves, we are like shepherd-less sheep each wandering off right into the danger we fear most. Our debriefing sessions, if we live long enough to schedule them, include the phrase, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Fear and hopelessness were the weapons the enemy of my soul used to manipulate my actions and willingness to surrender power for most of my life. I see him tripping up this generation in the same way. Fear manipulates their thinking to the point where many see no future for themselves or the children they will not allow to be born – even if those children, like many generations before them, carry solutions their parents could not envision.

The Good Shepherd has resources the sheep do not have. He is willing to put himself between them and the predator. He is willing to venture into the wilderness to save the one who foolishly got him/herself into a terrible mess of brambles. Like the shepherd on horseback I saw on the Cowboy Trail last week, he is near — and he is good.

Psalm 23 was written by a King, and former shepherd, who found himself in a terrible mess of his own making. He recognizes another option to the trajectory his foolishness started: 5) Turn to God and trust in his ways.

The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.
I always have more than enough.
He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.
That’s where he restores and revives my life.
He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
so that I can bring honor to his name….

…So why would I fear the future?
For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life…

(Psalm 23:1-3, 6a The Passion Translation)

sheep cowboy trail mountains ch rs DSC_0117

6 thoughts on “Shepherd on Horseback: Guarding Against Fear and Hopelessness

  1. Great post. Echoes what my eyes see and the same devices of the enemy being used to intimidate and shut down the freeing ability to live life.  My heart aches a lot these days. It’s caught in that in-between place of deep trust in the Lord and His ways, and not giving up hope when all I see and hear close to me belies it at the moment. And, the fact that some of what I long for may never come to fruition in this life. More questions than answers in detail, but our saving grace is knowing ever more intimately The Answer.  All that to say, how are you these days? Outside of writing our hearts at times, it’s good to actually check-in every now and then as life rolls on 🙂  Hugs to you and I pray your health is mended and mending, growing stronger and healthier, repaired. Much love, Nancy

    Coaching website: http://www.nancybentz.comNancy‘s Blog: Wellspring of Life @Ministry website:


  2. Lois Martin

    Thank you, Charis! Your meditation is greatly needed.

    Your childhood memory resonates with me, except that I don’t remember feeling that I was responsible for stopping the bomb. I was the “baby” sister, and older siblings laughed at my fear. They said I would get an ulcer from being a worrywart. Possibly, they were hiding their own fear.

    Though I now know the hope and perfect love of the Good Shepherd, the father of lies still attacks me with fear. Surely, the Bible contains so many admonitions not to fear or be afraid because our Father knows the human heart so well!

    “God is love.” His Spirit lives in me, and “perfect love casts out fear.”


    1. Lois, one of my friends told me she still has moments when she `loses her peace. She asked the Lord to remind her when she is allowing herself to be manipulated by fear. When she recognizes it she says, out loud, “I see you,” and laughs. She says it helps her enormously to realize that if God laughs at attempts to keep us in fear, she can laugh too. She is a remarkably positive peaceful person.


  3. I loved this post. Bravo and ditto to it all! Thank God for Jesus our ‘Good Shepherd’ who protects us from predators! And thankful for you and the calling to write and share that you are obeying. Because the way you pointed out how the enemy uses the same fear tactics, throughout the generations, and just changes the details, is so powerful. It gives me much to think about, connections I doubt I could have made without your details here (hopefully I now have better tools with which to encourage the young people in my sphere of influence, who are being told new versions of the ‘same old’ lies and fear tactics.) ❤️ Blessings to you!


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