For nearly 15 years, we were privileged to have a guest area in our home. Pastors, missionaries, friends in ministry, the wife of a gentleman in a nearby prison, family members, a Hurricane Katrina refugee, a woman in the midst of chemotherapy, love interests of our children who later became spouses, relatives who needed a place to stay, overflow guests from others’ lives, a Salvation Army intern … they all graced our home at one time or another. And it was such a blessing to have them with us.
I was reminded of each of their faces this morning as I read Numbers 6:26, a portion of the blessing that God provided for Aaron and the priests to offer over the people of Israel as Moses prepared them to enter the land of Canaan.
The expanded version of this priestly blessing was beautifully painted on the wall of the guest room where our visitors stayed…
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
As we shepherded each guest through their one-night or months-long stay, we quietly prayed this blessing over them as they entered, while they resided with us, and when possible, hand-in-hand before they moved on in their journey. It was a permanent fixture of their space, greeting them as they entered and lingering over their bed as they slept.
I’ve since learned the pronouns in this passage are singular, indicating these blessings come to us personally. As I thought about this nuance, I wondered why I rarely prayed this blessing over others in my life. What about the sheep I know that never cross the threshold of my home?
A Godly shepherd would pray blessing over all the sheep in his life…
Those he loves.
Those with whom he struggles.
Those he pastors.
Those that now attend church elsewhere.
Those he supervises.
Those that labor next to him.
Those that think of themselves first.
Those that serve him.
Those that gossip about him.
Those that sing his praises.
Those that minister to him.
Those that persecute him.
Those that enter his family.
Those that exit it.
Those whose company he enjoys.
Those whom he politely tolerates.
All the sheep.
I’m so grateful for our house guests. It seems, though, that I have a few other sheep to add to my blessing list…