The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths . . . Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Ps. 23:1-4)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
The email is one you were hoping you wouldn’t get: a positive Covid case in your child’s school means she has to be tested and your family must isolate.
Suddenly the sore throats of two of your kids send your heart rate spiraling. You go through a whole range of feelings, and peace isn’t one of them. It will be days before you have any answers, and waiting is the hardest thing they could ask you to do. All your instincts yell for you to DO something.
When it comes to the people you love most, feeling helpless is the worst feeling of all.
We’re not used to feeling helpless because we do everything we can to avoid it. At the best of times, helplessness is not comfortable. If someone were to suggest that we should actually focus on our helplessness — even rejoice in it — they probably wouldn’t find many takers. Yet that’s really what David is celebrating in Psalm 23. You might say he’s reveling in feeling sheepish, and the reason is because the Lord is his Shepherd.
Sheep really are helpless creatures. They’re followers, The trouble is, they’ll follow wherever one of them happens to wander. None of them really know where they’re going.
The thing sheep have going for them is they know they need a shepherd. They gladly leave it up to the shepherd to show them where they should go for food. The shepherd steers them away from turbulent water and takes them to quiet streams where it’s safe for them to drink without getting swept away. Even in the dark narrow valleys where predators lurk, sheep take comfort because they know the power of the shepherd’s club to ward off enemies. If one starts to wander off, the gentle touch of his staff will bring them back to safety.
I’ve been feeling a lot more sheepish lately, and it’s proving a very good place to be. I’m becoming more and more aware of how helpless I really am — helpless in myself, that is. I am never without help because I’m never without the triune God. The only way I can really help myself is to help myself to more of Him.
Because the Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. The world will never give me peace. The dark valleys will come. Keeping the Shepherd in view, and letting Him lead me makes all the difference. I can let my heart be troubled by focusing on my fears, or I can be content with trusting the Shepherd who created my heart, who loves me with all of His heart, and rejoice that He is leading me through trouble and moving me toward green pastures and quiet waters.
As I follow my Shepherd, His goodness and love follows me and won’t stop until I do. And He saves the best part for last: my exit from living here will be my entrance to His home forevermore.
Lord, keep me feeling sheepish, I pray!