I know I’m being guided somewhere, I just don’t know exactly where.
I know I’m continually being protected from something, I just don’t always see the threats coming.
I know I’ve been saved countless times, and the majority of those times it’s me I needed saving from.
This is what Jesus offers us. Guidance, protection, and saving us over and over again from even ourselves. Jesus says in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” Yes, the good shepherd literally laid down his life for us, so don’t you think he has your needs for today covered? Don’t you think he is capable of caring for you in this?
In order for the Lord to be my shepherd, I must understand my role and his role. I am the sheep. I am 100% dependent upon my shepherd. And my shepherd is 100% committed to me.
A shepherd’s life is fully dedicated to the care and well being of his sheep. He guides them, he protects them, and he saves them.
When David wrote the famous 23rd Psalm, he referred to this shepherd/sheep relationship. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”
I’ve always had this image of those green pastures as if it were a place of bliss. I see peaceful meadows covered in an abundance of lush green grass and this is where Jesus leads me. This place of more than I need. A place of near perfection. A place of no worries, strain or stress.
Dang, I seemed to have missed that green pasture!
Maybe that’s the image you’ve had as well. But wait, if those green pastures are so darn great, why would the shepherd have to make us lay down in them?
A quick study on the hillsides of Jerusalem where David was referring to green pastures reveal our image of lush meadows couldn’t be further from the truth. This land is mostly dirt and sand. It is harsh and sprigs of grass are scarce. Even in the rainy season there are no pastures of abundance as we imagine.
This totally isn’t what I imagined.
Crossing these hillsides are narrow dirt paths where shepherds guide their sheep. The dirt paths are spaced just far enough apart so the sheep can reach into the middle of the paths and eat the sprigs of grass. A lot of ground must be covered in order for every sheep to get enough food to eat.
There’s not an abundance of grass, just a little sprig. But it’s enough to take a bite, then walk a little further and take another bite. The good shepherd leads his sheep through these sprigs of grass until each sheep has had an opportunity to eat for the day. There’s not always an abundance, especially during the dry season, but the shepherd can be trusted to keep guiding them to enough for the day’s need.
And this is how God is guiding us. We may be in that dry season of life. Look around … yip, we are. The abundance we once knew is no longer here. It’s a new season and things just got harder. But I don’t see my shepherd freaking out. He’s not panicked wondering where to guide us or how to care for us. He has already proven there’s nothing he won’t do for us. He died to save us, so I feel confident in his commitment. He’s all in and it’s all for you sister!
Over 20 years ago someone stood on my doorstep and asked me my name. I said Pamela. They then quoted John 3:16 to me and said “Did you know, God so loved Pamela, that he gave his one and only son to save her?” Woah … game changer. If I were the only person in the world, he would have done it just for me.
He would have done it just for you.
So, can the good shepherd be trusted with your current situation? You bet he can!
So, what about those green pastures where he makes us lay down? Is that where we are right now? And why doesn’t it look greener, happier, and more abundant?
Every night, the shepherd would stop the travels and create an enclosure for the sheep. Within this enclosure, they were safe under the watchful eye of their shepherd. The sheep couldn’t wander off in the dark, get lost or attacked. They were kept close. Within this enclosure would be green sprigs of grass for the sheep to eat through the night. Once again, enough provision to meet the need.
These pastures we find ourselves in right now may not be an abundance of green grass overflowing with comfort, but we are being held close to the shepherd. I choose him over lush meadows anyway, don’t you?
We often think we could strike out on our own and find something better. The old “the grass is always greener on the other side” so we’re never content where we are. And now, we’re stuck where we are. It’s probably time to find the good here. It’s probably time to look around and see that right here close to the shepherd where he is protecting us is better than some distant field on our own anyway.
When David said green pastures, he meant a dry rocky mountainside with narrow dirt paths and just enough grass along the way. And this is why we desperately need our Jesus to guide us. We can’t navigate this on our own. But our good shepherd will guide us to find what is needed for today while keeping us close to him.
And what about those still waters in the 23rd Psalm David wrote about. “He leads me beside still waters.”
Still water is what the sheep need. Not a rushing river where they will be swept away. Still water is a little trickle of water peacefully bubbling up and creating a shallow flow. This still water would be easy to miss, but the shepherd knows where to find it and he leads his sheep there.
Jesus, guide us to this refreshing place of peace today. Let us slow down and be quiet so we can experience life as you meant it to be. We will follow you.
Will you trust him to guide you today?
Will you trust him when green pastures don’t look as you imagined?
Will you trust him on the narrow dirt path through the hillside which seems to be leading nowhere?
Will you trust that he’s leading you to still waters you can’t see or hear yet, but they’re there and it’s exactly what you need.
Will you trust his love for you is greater than any circumstances you may face and his power is over it all?
We are the sheep. We are 100% dependent on him.
He is the shepherd. He is 100% committed to us.
He supplies our daily needs. He offers us peace.
Today, he guides us through this. Today, we trust him.