|The Shepherd by the uber-talented Danice Sweet|
I found the painting while visiting a friend in our new local hospital. They have a small gallery of local artists' work. When I rounded a corner and saw it for the first time, I was mesmerized. A small flock of sheep were led down a tree-lined path by their shepherd, while a sneaky fox peeked out from behind a nearby tree.
Never leaving my memory for long, I contemplated the painting and its meaning. I even dreamt of walking down that tree-lined pathway. The price was very dear, so I knew it was not meant for me to own this beautiful work of art.
When February 2012 came, I had my usual well-woman exam and mammogram. However, the breast exam showed abnormalities, so I had to have a follow-up needle biopsy. Being diagnosed with breast cancer on my 50th birthday was a bit of a cruel joke. Honestly, I can't remember much about the rest of that day. There was definitely no party.
Soon there were many doctor's appointments and tests and surgeries to set up. One day, while driving home from an appointment in Wichita, the Hubster and I discussed how I really didn't have a birthday and that there was no present from him. He said, "I wanted to give you that painting you love."
It had been months since I had seen the painting at the hospital, so I felt sure it was already sold. The Hubster suggested we stop by on the drive home and check it out. It was still there, and within minutes, it was on the way home with us.
We hung the painting on the wall next to our bed. Every time I got in or out of the covers, The Shepherd was there to greet me. When the steroids didn't allow me to sleep, I lay and looked at this scene, praying that God my Shepherd give me grace and mercy to get through this season of healing.
Over the next 14 months, I went through multiple grueling medical tests, three major surgeries, six rounds of chemo, 35 doses of radiation and countless flights from Wichita to Chicago.
I treasure the presence of The Shepherd in my home and all the symbolism it holds. What a privilege to daily view a representation of how much God loves and protects His children.
Psalm 23:1-6 (KJV) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.