Belasan tahun yang lalu (lama banget!) saya membaca buku ini, sangat diberkati olehnya, bahkan beberapa kali menggunakannya untuk bahan khotbah.
Buku ini sangat unik karena latar belakang penulisnya yang unik. W. Phillip
Keller pernah tinggal lama di Afrika Timur, di lingkungan para gembala yang
kebudayaannya sangat mirip dengan mereka yang di Timur Tengah. Dia sendiri
bahkan pernah menjadi gembala selama 8 tahun. Dia tahu seperti apa kesulitan,
pergumulan, perasaan, berhubungan dengan domba sebagai gembala. Kemudian, dia
juga menjadi “gembala” dari sebuah gereja dan dia mengalami arti menjadi
“gembala” bagi umat Tuhan.
Buku ini ditulis dengan bahasa yang sederhana tetapi sangat menarik. Keller tidak mencoba merohanikan relasi gembala dan domba. Di satu sisi, dia mencoba
menafsirkan Mazmur 23 dari sudut pandang gembala/domba sungguhan. Tapi, di sisi
lain, dia tidak kebablasan dan membuat Mazmur 23 kehilangan maksud aslinya.
Susunan buku ini sederhana, dibagi dalam 12 bab, yang masing-masing menjelaskan arti 1 kalimat dari Mazmur 23. Ini bukan buku tafsiran – jauh dari itu. Ini juga bukan buku eksposisi. Ini buku devotional – mengajak kita merenung, menguatkan iman kita, dan membawa kita berlutut. Untuk tujuan itu, Keller sangat berhasil. Dia membawa kita melihat betapa terlibatnya Allah dalam hidup kita sebagai gembala dan betapa tidak berdayanya kita sebagai domba.
Saya mencoba mencari paragraf yang bisa saya cuplik dan cantumkan disini untuk
memberi gambaran tentang bagaimana gaya tulisan Keller. Tidak berhasil - kecuali cuplikannya panjang. Dia
menulis dengan sangat mengalir dan mencuplik sepotong tulisannya justru bisa
membuat kita salah mengerti tentang dia. Di bawah adalah cuplikan penjelasannya tentang kalimat "I shall not want..." Mudah-mudahan cukup menggambarkan.
When all is said and done, the welfare of any flock is entirely dependent upon the management afforded them by their owner.
The tenant sheepman on the farm next to my first ranch was the most indifferent manager I had ever met. He was not concerned about the condition of his sheep. His land was neglected. He gave little or no time to his flock, letting them pretty well forage for themselves as best they could, both summer and winter. They fell prey to dogs, cougars, and rustlers.
Every year these poor creatures were forced to gnaw away at bare brown fields and impoverished pastures. Every winter there was a shortage of nourishing hay and wholesome grain to feed the hungry ewes. Shelter to safeguard and protect the suffering sheep from storms and blizzards was scanty and inadequate.
They had only polluted, muddy water to drink. There had been a lack of salt and other trace minerals needed to offset their sickly pastures. In their thin, weak, and diseased condition these poor sheep were a pathetic sight.
In my mind’s eye I can still see them standing at the fence, huddled sadly in little knots, staring wistfully through the wires at the rich pastures on the other side.
To all their distress, the heartless, selfish owner seemed utterly callous and indifferent. He simply did not care. What if his sheep did want green grass, fresh water, shade, safety, or shelter from the storms? What if they did want relief from wounds, bruises, disease, and parasites?
He ignored their needs — he couldn’t care less. Why should he — they were just sheep — fit only for the slaughterhouse.
I never looked at those poor sheep without an acute awareness that this was a precise picture of those wretched old taskmasters, Sin and Satan, on their derelict ranch — scoffing at the plight of those within their power.
As I have moved among men and women from all strata of society as both a lay pastor and as a scientist, I have become increasinglyaware of one thing. It is the boss — the manager — the
Master in people’s lives who makes the difference in their destiny.
I have known some of the wealthiest men on this continent intimately — also some of the leading scientists and professional people.
Despite their dazzling outward show of success, despite their affluence and their prestige, they remained poor in spirit, shriveled in soul, and unhappy in life. They were joyless people held in the iron grip and heartless ownership of the wrong master.
By way of contrast, I have numerous friends among relatively poor people — people who have known hardship, disaster, and the struggle to stay afloat financially. But because they belong to Christ and have recognized Him as Lord and Master of their lives, their owner and manager, they are permeated by a deep, quiet, settled peace that is beautiful to behold.
It is indeed a delight to visit some of these humble homes where men and women are rich in spirit, generous in heart, and large of soul. They radiate a serene confidence and quiet joy that surmounts all the tragedies of their time.
They are under God’s care and they know it. They have entrusted themselves to Christ’s control and found contentment. Contentment should be the hallmark of the man or woman who has put his or her affairs in the hands of God. This especially applies in our affluent age. But the outstanding paradox is the intense fever of discontent among people who are ever speaking of security.
Despite an unparalleled wealth in material assets, we are outstandingly insecure and unsure of ourselves and well nigh bankrupt in spiritual values.
Always men are searching for safety beyond themselves. They are restless, unsettled, covetous, greedy for more — wanting this and that, yet never really satisfied in spirit.
By contrast the simple Christian, the humble person, the Shepherd’s sheep, can stand up proudly and boast. “The Lord is my shepherd — I shall not be in want.”
Gambar sampul di atas berasal dari cetakan tahun 2007 dan waktu itu buku ini sudah terjual lebih dari 2 juta eksemplar. Seingat saya buku ini juga sudah diterjemahkan ke dalam bahasa Indonesia.