The Upper Room Devotion for Friday, July 21, 2023, was written by Carrie Knight Kitzmiller of Texas.
1 Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you 2 to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it — not for sordid gain but eagerly. 3 Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away.
1 Peter 5:1-4 NRSV
SHEPARD THE FLOCK
I was married to an alcoholic who was abusive. Many days I dreaded what might happen when I arrived home from work. During the hardest nights, I would lie awake worrying that he might hurt me while I slept. The police and the courts got involved, and ultimately the marriage ended.
I felt ashamed and discouraged about my marriage and the course of events. I was surprised to find certain friends and family members undependable. It seemed that they were ashamed too. I felt alone - except for God. I prayed continually and could sense that God was guiding me.
Then two older members of my church helped me understand more clearly God's all -encompassing love for me. I had expected to be berated and rejected, but instead they surprised me with grace. They met me with keen understanding , guidance, and compassion that I had not experienced before.
Now many years later, I rejoice as I remember this man and woman and how God used them to shepherd me through a very difficult time. My hope is that I may honor God by being the same kind of helper to others.
We are all in need of grace, the gift of compassion that offers us hope despite our circumstances. God showers us with unmerited grace that we might know how much we are loved. Carrie's reflection reminds us of the impact small gestures of grace can have on the lives of those going through hardships. May we, like Carrie, aspire to extend grace to others as others have extended grace to us.
Gracious and loving God, thank you for never leaving us. Please guide us to those who need our understanding and compassion. Amen.
-Carrie Knight Kitzmiller