“Sheep are not burden-bearing animals.” A godly woman said this to me recently in response to my sharing with her the feeling that I bore a great weight on my shoulders. To be sure, the weight I bore was something I had picked up and put on myself. Though, if you asked me, I would have said it had been placed there by a hand other than my own.
In 1 Peter 5:6-7, the apostle says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you.”
Often, we read verse 7 without including verse 6, but the two go hand in hand. Peter tells us that the way to humility is through the casting of our cares on God Almighty. Who would think of throwing off our cares as an act of humility? This convicted me, because how often, when asked how I’m doing, my answer is: “Oh, I’m good, just busy!” I use “busy” as my word to appear more important than I am. Saying, “I just have so much to deal with at the moment,” sounds so impressive. However, the Spirit of God whispers, “Holding on to your worries to make yourself seem important is not a humble way to live.”
Just one verse prior to this, Peter references the Old Testament when he says, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” It could say, “God opposes the worrier.” I realized that allowing worry to take hold in my heart and mind is one of the most prideful things I can do, and at its essence is an expression of distrust in my Shepherd.
Sheep don’t worry about how they’re going to be taken care of, what they’ll eat, or whether they’ll find their way home from the pasture to which the shepherd has led them. Sheep just live. They trust their shepherd for provision and guidance. They live in dependence upon him to meet their daily needs. The shepherd never asks them to bear burdens. He takes their needs, their well-being, their safety, and carries those burdens himself.
I recently heard a sermon preached that included the phrase, “Loved people are not anxious.” I pray that I will know and believe that I am loved by a good Shepherd, and, therefore, have no reason to worry. I pray to be more like a sheep, and that when I’m able to cast my cares upon the One who cares for me, I will find there the unimaginable grace to trust Him even more.
Corley Shumaker is the Assistant Campus Minister of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Arkansas State University. She has an MDiv. degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Corley is married to Kevin and they recently welcomed a daughter, Ellie Joy, to their family. You can reach her on Twitter at @corleycline