This is where we are

 

I’ve been sending kids to preschool now for nine years.  That’s four kids, three girls and one boy, all with different personalities and obviously different birth order.

I’ll tell you what’s the same .

Being the line leader is a big deal.

A really big deal.

I haven’t ever given birth to a child who apparently finds the end of the line satisfactory.

It’s not just line-leading that my kids love.  It’s also often been about prime seating spots around classroom tables or for morning circle time.

One of my daughters refused to  wear her jacket well into November during her preschool days.  We had a big to-do each morning as we headed out the door to preschool.  I insisted that it  was too cold to go jacket-less; she broke down into hysterics over wearing a jacket.  It took me several weeks to  root out the cause—hanging up her jacket in the morning slowed her down and meant someone else usually sat next to  her best friend at calendar time.  She’d rather freeze or come down with pneumonia rather than give up a place next to  her buddy.

And then there was another daughter who declined to take dance classes for three months because one little girl  always insisted on sitting on the triangle spot instead of taking turns.  After all, sitting on the circle was unsatisfactory.

Prime place, favorite positions, the perfect spot–we want to be where we want to be.

And then, sometimes,  God puts us down in a place we don’t want to be and it’s a stretch to our souls.  Maybe we  feel we could snap with the tension and the pull of the longing versus the reality.

Over there is where we want to be, but this is where we are, and that is hard.

It’s when prayers are  answered with a “no” or the hoped-for doors close in front of us or the one thing we hoped would never ever happen does happen.  It’s loss and grief and brokenness with deep disappointment underneath it  all.

What then?

Today, I re-read Psalm 23 and I remember what my Good Shepherd does:

He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake (Psalm 23:2-3 NASB).

The  Lord my Shepherd guides and leads me, but He isn’t always leading me where it’s cozy or comfy or always convenient.  Instead, He’s leading me in these paths of righteousness “for His name’s sake.”

He’s not working for my pleasure; He’s working for His glory, always for the glory of  His name.  And that means I might end up munching on some  lush grass and drinking down some  cool water. Or I could be walking on paths of righteousness  that are rockier than I’d like them to be or steep or shaded and deep in the valley.

I  have to trust Him, believe deeply and with full assurance that this path He has me on is for His glory and He will lead me where I need to go. He will restore me and refresh me with the meadows and the calm streams when I need them the most.

He will not abandon me.

But I also read this in Jennifer Rothschild’s study, Psalm 23:

I can be wrong even on the right path (p. 99).

It’s not just  trudging along that path of righteousness, begrudging, unhappy,  complaining,  maybe even bitter that makes me right with the Lord.   That may be obedience, but it’s not the obedience God desires—the yielded heart, the trust, the love.

My attitude matters.

Jennifer Rothschild says it this way:

We don’t control the path.  All we control is  our attitude and actions on the path.

So I grieve a little and Jesus understands.  He has compassion for me in the middle of the brokenness.  He is gracious and gentle as I lay down what I hoped for and what I prayed for.

I give it over to Him and I try to follow my Shepherd on this path of righteousness, this hard and rocky path, with a yielded and trusting heart instead of a begrudging or fearful one.

Because He is my Good Shepherd.  And He will  work out even the hardest seasons for the glory of His name.  And it  will be good.  And He will  refresh and renew.  That is who He is and this is what He does.

21 Bible Verses About the Sheep and the Shepherd

Verses-sheep

  • Psalm 23:1-3 ESV
    The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
        He makes me lie down in green pastures.
    He leads me beside still waters.
        He restores my soul.
    He leads me in paths of righteousness
        for his name’s sake.
  • Psalm 78:52 ESV
  • Then he led out his people like sheep
        and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
  • Psalm 79:13 ESV
    But we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
        will give thanks to you forever;
        from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
  • Psalm 100:3 ESV
    Know that the Lord, he is God!
        It is he who made us, and we are his;
        we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
  • Psalm 119:176 ESV
    I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,
        for I do not forget your commandments.
  • Isaiah 53:6 ESV
    All we like sheep have gone astray;
        we have turned—every one—to his own way;
    and the Lord has laid on him
        the iniquity of us all.
  • Isaiah 53:7 ESV
    He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
        yet he opened not his mouth;
    like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
        and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
        so he opened not his mouth.
  • Isaiah 60:3 ESV
    All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you;

        the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
    they shall come up with acceptance on my altar,
        and I will beautify my beautiful house.
  • Jeremiah 23:1 ESV
     “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord.
  • Jeremiah 50:6 ESV
     “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains. From mountain to hill they have gone. They have forgotten their fold.
  • Ezekiel 34:11-16 ESV
     “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land.There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy.[a] I will feed them in justice.
  • Micah 2:12 ESV
    I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob;
        I will gather the remnant of Israel;
    I will set them together
        like sheep in a fold,
    like a flock in its pasture,
        a noisy multitude of men.
  • Matthew 9:36 ESV
     When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
  • Matthew 10:16 ESV
     “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so bewise as serpents and innocent as doves.
  • Matthew 18:10-13 ESV
    “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.
  • Matthew 25:31-33 ESV
    “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him,then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
  • Matthew 26:31 ESV
    Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
  • Luke 12:32 ESV
    Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
  • Luke 15:4-7 ESV
    “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
  • John 10:11-15 ESV
    I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
  • 1 Peter 2:25 ESV
     For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Weekend Walk, 09/17/2011

Hiding the Word:

In my personal devotionals this week, I read Psalm 23—“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”

The danger of familiarity is complacency.  We become insensitive to the wonder of Scriptures that we hear and read all the time.

But I was struck anew by this powerful thought in this oft-quoted verse—“I shall not want,” not because I have a shepherd.  No, it’s because of who my Shepherd is—The Lord.  I have the best, most compassionate and capable Shepherd of all. It is because of His character that I never need to fear or worry or fret over provision and safety.

In her book, Stumbling Into Grace, Lisa Harper talks about Luke 12:22-32, where Jesus instructs us not to worry about what we’ll eat or wear because He takes care of the birds and the lilies of the field.  He loves us ever so much more than them and will care for our every need, as well.

At the end of that passage, Jesus says,

But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
Luke 12:31-32

Lisa Harper notes that Luke’s “use of the term little flock in verse 32 is so unique that this is the only place it can be found in the entire Bible” (p. 10).

Once again, it is the fact that we are such beloved sheep of such a Good Shepherd that calms my heart and gives me peace when I am afraid. And so, this is the verse I have chosen to meditate on this week.  I’ll write it on index cards, post it around my house, and remind myself all week long of how much my Shepherd loves me.

For more thoughts on the way we sheep can trust in our Shepherd, please check out my article: Living the Sheep’s Life: Choosing Grace Over the Law.

What verse are you meditating on this week?

Book Review:

Waiting on God and being persistent in prayer—not the two easiest disciplines of the Christian walk.  But, John I. Snyder addresses both in his book: Your 100 Day Prayer: The Transforming Power of Actively Waiting on GodEach day’s entry begins with a verse and thoughtful devotional and concludes with an opportunity to pray.  The goal is to take a specific prayer request to God every day for 100 days.

Snyder’s book not only gives you verses and prayer prompts, but his daily devotionals are well-thought out and challenging.  This is more than a fluffy feel-good devotional.  Instead, it is an impassioned look at God’s character and what it means to pray with persistence.  He deals with difficult topics, such as “When God Says No” and “The Silent Heaven,” with insight and wisdom.

The author himself says, “This sustained, stubborn, never-give-up spirit of prayer is not so much to persuade God to give us what we want, but rather to transform us in the process.” His book could help transform and enliven your prayer life, as well as spur you on to greater spiritual maturity as you engage in the daily disciplines of Bible reading and meditation, prayer and journaling.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King