Won Without Words
winning the marriage you desire through wisdom

Shari Popejoy


December 6, 2010

Shepherd Boy

(This story is featured in the 2012 Issue 3 of Home Educating Family Magazine.)

He was going from box to box, grabbing, touching, and exclaiming over the brightly shining Christmas ornaments. Several admonitions to be gentle were ineffective, and could not restrain his eager Christmas joy. Each treasure was unwrapped, quickly perused, and then just as quickly discarded as he reached for another hidden treasure.

The dreaded clunk sound caused me to go inspect the damage, and I was dismayed to see that his careless handling of my shepherd boy had caused the faithful lamb to be broken from its side. I said sternly, “Micah, that was important to me, and now it’s broken. Go to your room. NOW.”

The banishment immediately ended his Christmas joy, and I held my precious shepherd boy in my hand for inspection. It was one of the few items that remained from my early marriage. A fire had destroyed our home, and all our possessions.

One wall of the burning structure had fallen outward instead of inward, sparing my Christmas decorations from being crushed. Some of my ceramic Christmas trinkets had withstood the fire, although the heat had scorched the pretty colors and weakened the glass. I had carefully brushed away the ashes and sifted through the rubble to save a few ceramic ornaments. My shepherd boy was the sole survivor of the precious nativity set that I had saved for and splurged to purchase in the early days of our marriage.

Each year, I tenderly looked at these items and replaced them carefully in the box, not to be displayed, but just to remain as a memorial to the past, and also as a testament that God is faithful, and time heals wounds.

The greatest lesson I learned from the fire was that possessions are unimportant and nothing could compare with the feeling of knowing that even though the fire had destroyed my things, it hadn’t touched my family. I was content with only my family surrounding me, and the joy of having their love couldn’t be marred by the loss of all my possessions.

As I stood there holding my shepherd boy, remembering that important lesson, I realized that only one thing was needed in this situation. I walked into my son’s room, where he was subdued and sorrowful.

I showed him the shepherd boy, and spoke to him in four-year-old boy language, as I said, “Do you see this shepherd boy?” He looked at the broken figurine and said, “Mommy, I’m so sorry.” I replied, “Micah, I like this shepherd boy, but I don’t love this shepherd boy.” I laid the shepherd boy aside as I gathered my son close to me and lifted his chin so that I could look straight into his face while I said, “I love Micah.” I hugged him and held him close.

The joy in his face let me know that he understood the intangible concept I was trying to convey. He easily understood remotes, electronics, and mechanics, but the subtle nuances of kindness, sharing, and love seemed a foreign language to him at times. But he understood this completely, and repeated back to me several times that day, “You don’t love that shepherd boy; you love Micah.”

Now my little shepherd boy with his severed lamb is more precious to me than before. When I unpack them each Christmas, I will always remember the look on my son’s face when he realized the difference between like and love. There is no thing more valuable to me than the tender hug we shared that day.

[I’m including the remainder of Chapter Six from ‘Won Without Words’, which includes the remainder of a lesson about Martha, and as Jesus said, ‘one thing needful’ — you might enjoy reading the conclusion of the chapter.]

Just as Jesus wanted to spare Martha regrets, and replace them with precious memories, He wants to teach you how to lay aside what seems important at the moment, in order to gain something momentous.

Jesus wants to spare you regrets. Listen when He speaks wisdom. When you hear a still, small voice say, “Stop what you are doing, and spend more time with the children,” or “Look at that sunset,” or “Why don’t you spend Sunday afternoons with Grandma,” or “Don’t say/do that; you’ll regret it later,” listen and obey. Martha learned from Jesus, took His wisdom to heart, and was spared many regrets as she blossomed into her full potential with joy.

We find that six days before the Passover, Martha was again servingi, Lazarus was reclining, and Mary was anointing Jesus for his burial. Jesus did not change Martha’s ministry, or her personality. She still served, because she had a servant’s heart.

However, I believe she had learned an important lesson from Jesus, and I hope that when Mary performed her act of worship in anointing Jesus, Martha was not too busy to join in the worship, and to be included in the blessed and spiritual act of service by Mary for our Lord.

You must be willing to see things from the perspective of your husband, from the perspective of time, and from the perspective of God. If we do that, we will reprioritize our life and our duties.

We have not because we ask notii. Ask God, ask your husband, and ask your children for help. Your husband will tell you what you can leave undone, and what can wait until tomorrow; he has a rare perspective in these matters, and will not lead you astray.

Find out what your husband really wants from you. It probably won’t be cooking, cleaning, or child-rearing; he could hire a housekeeper or babysitter. He desires deeper things like companionship, loyalty, support, affection, and friendship. Ask him to tell you the three most important things you have to offer him. You might be surprised at his response.

This book is all about how to love your husband with God’s love, even when he is not serving God, in order to allow the love of God to change your husband. A miracle can occur when love is in action.

Love is greater than hope and faithiii. Love is the force that saves the world.iv Love is a gift you give yourself. The more you give away, the more you have available to give, because it multiples. It is one thing that you can give away and still keep.

This book is not about how much your husband needs to change, even if he is an ornery old codger. It’s not about his many faults or weaknesses. It’s about you, and how much God loves you, and how He is willing to work with you to perfect you. When there is conflict in the marriage, use it as a reminder to get on your knees before the Holy God, to seek Him and His goodness, and ask Him to cleanse you and make you holy.

Only in the kingdom of God, can a change in another person be put into effect by perfecting ourselves in the process. Pray this verse:

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

PSALM 139:23-24 KJV

Allow God to purge you of the need to feel love before you can offer love. Truthfully acknowledge that if you do not love your husband, you cannot love Godv. Allow God to love your husband through you and allow God to love you in place of the lonely hurt you feel from your husband’s lack of love.

i John 12:2

ii James 4:2

iii I Corinthians 13:13

iv John 3:16

v I John 1:6, 2:11, 4:8, 4:20

excerpt from ‘Won Without Words’ by Shari Popejoy, copyright 2007, published by Injoy, Inc.

photo credit to Laurel Popejoy, Pure Image Graphics

About the Author

Shari Popejoy
Shari Popejoy is the author of the book Won Without Words, and the blog Won Without Words, encouragement to wives. She writes the Livingstone Library, an adventure series for young people, and the blog Oh Joy!, (injoyinc.com/oh/) for busy moms. She is a frequent contributor to Christian print and online magazines, and writes from the quiet country of the Ozarks, where she lives with her husband, Marc, and their three children. You can find out all about her at sharipopejoy.com!


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