Those smit markings were most colorful! What was? Called what? Smit markings! I was reading a book about shepherding which mentioned them. Do I have too much free time?! When my wife and I were in England for two months, we saw more sheep, I think, than people. They were on every hillside, the sheep that is! A slight exaggeration. Many of them, even the ones that grazed on the lawns of the 15th century ‘Old Manor House’ that we rented, had colorful, washable paint markings on their heads and sides. Red, yellow, green, blue… colors painted on the sheep. Called, yes, you heard right–smit markings! When sheep are grazing in open fields and fells, hills and valleys, they mix with those of different sheep owners. This is their way of identifying the sheep. With distinctive color and shape markings. Those smit markings! Now that we know what they are, it all made sense.
As I read the very familiar 23rd Psalm, I can picture the Lord being my shepherd, marking me with various colors to identify me as His own. Amid the crowd, He knows His own. Other parts of the Bible speak of having a mark on our foreheads(Revelation 14:1), or our names tattooed onto the palms of God’s hands(Isaiah 49:16), or Jesus’ ability to make His voice distinctive enough for us to know it’s Him and not someone else who we dare not follow(John 10:27). We’re given new names. Divided into sheep and goats(Matthew 25:32 ).
The Bible uses all kinds of varied images to reassure us that God has a way of knowing who we are, as mixed up as we may become amid the mass of humanity in this ever-growing, ever-ungodly world. When we docked at Mumbai, India, on our World Cruise, we decided not to leave the ship. Not wanting to get absorbed in over-congested traffic, amid the teeming and swarming masses. Instead, we watched the loading of food from one of the ship’s decks. Was blazing hot out. Humid and very uncomfortable. But on the ship we had whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted it. We could see that this was a super-crowded city. Reports back from those who went ashore were shocking. Some we knew were traumatized.
But even there, with cultures mixing and sloshing together, overflowing and bulging, the Lord knows His own. Have no doubt about it. He knows us. We’re marked. We’re provided for. He’ll never forget us or forsake us. Never. That you can bank on. Forever.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for knowing us. Thank you for that reassurance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.