No longer in the stage of life of having small children – with all the joys and tasks they create – I now have the blessing of grandchildren! This allows me time to think about the significance of motherhood and seek to encourage moms in the most important role they could every have. Seeking wisdom through the Bible daily, God sheds light in my heart and I desire to share this light with others.
Peter speaks directly to leaders in chapter five of his first letter, “Shepherd God’s flock. Not for the money, but eagerly.” These words powerfully impacted my heart one morning. Who are these words directed to? Leaders. Who is a leader? Parents are leaders. We are entrusted with the leadership of our children.
What does it mean to shepherd a flock? I’m no expert in sheep, but my guess is the obvious things – take care of them. Make sure they have safe food, a safe place to eat and protect them from forces that might attack and harm them. David is a great example of a committed shepherd. He tells us that he actively protected his sheep by killing a lion and a bear. He didn’t abandon his sheep. He didn’t expect anyone else to come in and do his work for him. He was ready. He was alert. He was practiced. He attacked the enemies that sought to attack his flock.
We also read many of David’s psalms and we know God asserted that David was “a man after God’s own heart.” David was certainly not perfect. He committed adultery and murder and sought to cover it up. He married many wives and didn’t have a great track record as a father. However, God continues to affirm that David’s heart was directed toward God. I believe part of this comes from his occupation during the boredom of looking after his sheep. Let’s face it, when you are looking after sheep, there are times of boredom – when everything seems to be going well. David used this time to exalt in God. He wrote down praises to God and he memorized them. He used his down time to extol God and bask in who God is.
As leaders we are to be prepared to actively protect our flock. We can also use the times of boredom to dig deeper into knowing God, knowing His word, memorizing His word and exalting God in our lives.
In 2017 we need to know exactly what dangers our sheep are facing. We need to have an awareness of the very real dangers in our world so that we can expose them and help our sheep avoid being consumed by the enemies they will encounter. I don’t believe we are called to push for a better world, or even hope that there will be a political solution to the evil we see around us. But, as a vigilant shepherd, we should seek to protect the sheep God has entrusted in our care and warn them of danger. An alert shepherd will investigate the potential of danger before advancing to a new area. Shepherds should be able to understand, point out, and explain the reason a particular path holds danger.
For me personally, as someone who has been blessed to get support and information that enabled me to have natural births and breastfeed the five children I was blessed by God to bear, the world of childbirth and early parenting are close to my heart. Knowing how empowering the act of giving birth naturally was for me, knowing how empowering the act of nurturing a baby exclusively at the breast is, and watching with delight as baby grows and thrives on breast milk alone is an unparalleled experience.
I believe the enemy wants to rob women of this empowering experience. Further, the enemy seeks to sow discord in the hearts of children and break the bonding process experienced easily through natural birth and breastfeeding. I am not trying to criticize anyone who has had a different experience, but the reality is, bonding is more difficult when there are complications in childbirth and when early breastfeeding is a struggle. These are not insurmountable challenges, but require much more effort and determination to get through. As a breastfeeding counselor for 23+ years I have seen women overcome incredible challenges to successfully breastfeed, but my heart aches to watch completely unnecessary complications develop because of lack of support, or poor recommendations to unsuspecting women.
I believe the medical establishment has so medicalized the childbirth experience that most women are deprived of the support necessary to watch their body give birth. For truly a woman was designed to give birth and her body is the most amazing part of the process. Our modern medical practices often unnecessarily complicate the process and serve to DISempower women of their biological strength. Again, this is not meant as a criticism to specific women, who generally do the best with the situation they face, but to the system. Medicalized births often lead to some trauma to both mom and baby and can make breastfeeding more difficult. Additionally, standard hospital practices and the advice given by staff can cause harm. Advice from medical personnel who are ignorant of breastfeeding creates many obstacles for a brand new mother trying to get breastfeeding off to a good start.
As a breastfeeding counselor nothing hurts my heart more than watching innocent, but ignorant, parents, blindly follow medical or cultural advice and end up actually harming their own child. They do not intend harm to their precious baby, but the system has ensnared them into decisions that are not in their baby’s best interests for lifelong health.
How? The list is long. Giving pregnant women vaccines which are known to harm the developing baby, repeated ultrasounds in pregnancy, routine birth practices designed with the doctor or hospital in mind but which put baby at greater risk of harm, vaccines given to baby, circumcision, allergy shots for children, Tylenol, screen time for babies and children (more addictive and damaging than some drugs), GMO food, processed foods, blindly trusting public schools or curriculum, Disney movies, etc.
I was once in darkness about most of these things. I didn’t know how harmful some of these things were. But, having researched and now understanding the danger, I can no longer blindly continue these harmful practices for myself. As an “older women” I can no longer stand idly by and watch younger women get sucked into very dangerous fields where the enemy stands ready to devour both them and their young lambs.
So, I must speak out and warn others, despite the risk of being dismissed as crazy, or ridiculed by what I point out. I am encouraged by Paul’s admission of craziness, “For if we are out of our mind (super crazy), it is for God, and if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ compels, us because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all died. And He died for all that those who live, no longer live for themselves, but for Him who for their sake, died, and was raised.” 2 Corinthians 5:13-14
Peter warns us that we need to “Be serious. Be alert. Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
Author: Becky Hastings, wife, mother, grandmother, passionate follower of Jesus and truth. As a breastfeeding counsellor for over 23 years Becky is devoted to helping parents make wise decisions for the long-term health and wellbeing of their babies. As a member of a Vaccine Safety Education Coalition, Becky writes and speaks on the topic of vaccine safety.