Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Lord is My Shepherd

My Aunt and Uncle used to take me to their church when I was little. Out of all those times, the two things I remember are two paintings that hung in the sanctuary. One was of Jesus standing at a door, the other one was of Jesus with a sheep across His shoulders. This morning, I found myself thinking about those paintings. I was once that lost little sheep that He placed upon His shoulders and brought me into His flock and under His protection. Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Today, I have a question to ask myself as well as all who read this blog. Is the Lord your Shepherd? Many of us will quickly reply, “Yes He is my Shepherd.”  
What I first saw when I read Psalm 23 this morning was an intimate relationship between David and the Lord God. David said, “The Lord is MY Shepherd.” He is and was David’s personal guide, His personal protector, his personal Lord. Is the Lord God your personal shepherd? Do you allow Him to lead you, to guide you, to protect you, to rule over every aspect of your life? The other thing that I saw when I read this was total surrender of self to the care and protection of God, our Shepherd.
A commentary I read stated, “The imagery of the shepherd and sheep in this poem reflects our total dependence on God. A shepherd’s chief concern is to do everything to insure the well-being of his flock. The emphasis of this psalm is to trust in God to meet our needs. As the Good Shepherd, God provides for our physical, mental and spiritual well-being. He provides refreshment in the difficult experiences of life. His “rod” and “staff” lovingly guide, protect and discipline His sheep. God’s “mercy” describes His steadfast love.”
Trusting God means that we do not have a “plan B.” If we truly believe, if we truly have made the Lord God our Shepherd, then with total abandonment we will go where He goes, we will do as He asks; we will accept with complete faith what He speaks. Surrender is hard, I would know. But one thing is true, if we do not surrender totally and completely every aspect of our lives to Him, we will always be standing on the other side of the door. There is no “in between” the lines of trust, there is no half-way. With God, it is all or nothing. He desires all of us, every fiber of our beings and every part of our day. His love and mercy alone should drive us to our knees.
This past year I have learned a lot about trusting God, about following His leading even when I didn’t understand where He was taking me. I have learned that there is no such thing as a “plan B” when I am following Him. Pastor Chuck Smith said “Not having the capacity to discern the future how important it is that He leads us.” How true that is! We do not know from one minute to the next what is in store for us, but God does. He knows because He has already laid out the path in which we are to take. He has made sure that everything is prepared for us; we are only to follow His leading and walk. (Ephesians 2:10) But walking in that faith and trust is hard. (I know, believe me, I know.)
I have had a few people ask me “how” I can have so much faith and just step out in what He is telling me to do so easily. First of all, it is not easy to take a step of faith, it is hard. But the trust and the faith that I have in my Lord, my Shepherd is not based on “how” it is done, but in the Who. The more I know of Him, the more I get to know Him and learn from Him the more I am able to take those steps, to trust Him. He has never, in all the years of my life failed me. He has never in all the years of my life caused me to want to do anything but trust Him. Just as David spoke very personally about his Lord, his Shepherd- I too speak very personally because I have chosen to allow Him to rule over me.
The other painting that I was thinking about, the one where Jesus is standing at a door and knocking- it’s the one where there is no doorknob on His side. He will not force you to follow Him, He will direct you and He will draw you, but He will not force you. We must allow Him to be our personal Shepherd. We must say to Him, “Yes Lord, I will trust you and follow you.” Even though the darkness around us seems so dark and endless, He is standing at the door of the sheep fold and calling to you, He is waiting for you.
Psalm 23 paints a picture of peace and rest, of trust and surrender of ourselves, of our lives to the One who deserves every ounce we can give Him. Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd gives His life for His sheep.” (John 10: 11) He laid down His life for you, He willingly took upon Himself all the punishment and the death that you deserve and all He asks is that you trust Him with your life.
He stands at the door of our hearts today and knocks, He asks, “Will you trust me with your life?” What we reply is up to us. He desires to carry you on His shoulders, He desires to restore your soul, He desires to have you at His banquet table, and He desires that you should dwell with Him all the days of your life. The question is not if He desires, the question is- do you desire Him as well?
Take a stroll today with God through Psalm 23. Stop and rest on the green pastures, drink and be refreshed by the still waters. Do not fear what the day may bring, or what the future holds, but trust in the Good Shepherd, who gave His life for your soul.  When He tells you to take a step of faith or to trust Him in some area of your life, and you feel your heart wavering and the fear and doubt creeping in- run to Psalm 23 and remember who your Shepherd is.
May the Lord God give you rest and peace in His word today. May His goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your life, may you open the door to Him today and let Him take you upon His shoulders into the wondrous light of His flock. God bless you and keep you all the days of your life. In Jesus Name, Amen and Amen.