We got locked out of our classroom Sunday morning and the lesson was locked in. So we took the class outside and enjoyed some sunshine and conversation. One question that was asked was to talk about your favorite scripture. Of course Psalm 23 came up and there went the rest of the time discussing sheep.
Now I don’t know much about sheep, we raised goats when we lived in
and Jan just raised them so she could win the blue ribbon and collect the grand prize. But I do know that there are a great many illustrations in the Bible that deal with sheep and the Good Shepherd. On particularly personal favorite is found in Matthew 18:12 and following. In this story Jesus tells us about the shepherd that goes out and looks for the lost sheep. We put ourselves in the story as the one who should be out looking for the lost and bringing them home. Texas
But I want view this story in another light. Consider how it would be if we had to search for God, wouldn’t we lose heart after awhile? The best part of the story is we don’t have to look for Him, he is always looking for us. But often times we recognize that we are not looking for Him at all, far from it. In some cases we are in full flight the opposite way (Jonah) or in rebellion against him (Paul). God has followed us into our own darkness and there where we thought we finally escaped Him (David wrote about finding God in the depths of Sheol), we run straight into His arms! Our hope is in His determination to save us and He will not give in.
In reality this should free us from the crippling anxiety that prevents us from growing, giving us room to do what ever we can do and to accept the small genuine responsibilities that we do have. Our part is not to carry the whole burden of our salvation, our part is to consent (be willing) to learn how to love him in return. I like this part because even if I wasn’t interested in God, He still gave his love freely.
That should let me off the hook in regard to some very desperate questions such as, “Am I in the right place” or “Have I done the right thing?” Of course we have to acknowledge sins and mistakes and we have to learn from them; but we shouldn’t harbor the kind of worry that leads to despair. God’s providence means that wherever I’ve gotten to or whatever I’ve done, that is the road that leads heaven. I mean think of all the cues you’ve missed or the opportunities that were wasted or the wrong turns in your life or the way you have made life so complicated and still the road beckons. The Lord still “waits to be gracious” according to Isaiah 30:18.
If we let these things really speak to us, then we can accept the Lord’s invitation, or should I say command, to cast all our cares upon Him and let Him care for them. We can give space in our hearts for Christ because our faith has expanded to make room available for it. That allows God to dethrone us in our own hearts and establish His own rule. Then we can give up ourselves and start to receive from Him all that is ours; our faculties, our freedom, our capacity to take initiatives, our ability to make decisions, so that our independence isn’t a challenge to God’s sovereignty. In this way we receive our freedom day by day, minute by minute from the creative love of God.
O Lord, you know me. You know when I sit and when I stand. You have me always present in your mind. For this Lord, I thank you. You know the path for my life and what is best for me. Lord, reveal to me the path I am to walk. Bless me and guide me and be Lord to me so that whichever road I take I may do all for your glory. In Jesus’ name - Amen.