Day 12 – Close to God’s Heart from D. Gayle Copeland, Ph.D. – 2021

Day 12 – Close to God’s Heart from D. Gayle Copeland, Ph.D. – 2021

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:11

As I write, FPU continues to address the “exiling” effects of COVID-19 on our community, our lives and ourselves. FPU has appeared to be a people without “home.” Many people in our midst have lost friends and family; many have navigated the pain inflicted by COVID; many have been isolated and challenged to work outside of our comfort zone; many have been paralyzed by fear; many are fearful of returning to “normal.” As the Psalmist echoes in Psalm 42, we may have asked, “where is God?” Yet, like the people of Israel returning from exile, we are promised that God never leaves us; we are promised hope through the word of God and the redeeming work of Christ. We are reminded at this time of year that Christ became flesh, Immanuel, God with us. And, we remember and celebrate his birth. The prophet Isaiah uses the metaphor of “Jesus as the Shepherd,” which is a common theme throughout Scripture. Isaiah also refers to God’s people as a flock and as lambs. Note the verbs used by Isaiah in this verse: “tend,” “gathers,” “carries” and “gently leads.” He, that is God, tends to his people; God gathers his people in his arms; God carries them close to his heart; and God gently leads those of his people who have young ones. These statements suggest an intimate communion with Christ. We can enjoy rest in him because no one can disturb or hurt those who are held close to God’s heart. At this time of Advent, we remember that God so loved us that he sent his only son. The comfort in our “exile” is Christ. Isaiah is pointing forward to Jesus and comforting us with the truth of his intimate care for his people.

Father God, I thank you that you are my shepherd who holds me close to your heart. I pray for grace to be able to rest, become aware of God’s presence and enjoy his presence. As we celebrate the birth of your son, I pray that my communion with you would grow ever sweeter as I rest in your intimate care.

Advent Devotions

D. Gayle Copeland, Ph.D.

Provost/Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs