Of Sheep and Shepherds

So, I’m reading Psalm 23 this morning and I didn’t even get past the first verse……

Psalm 23:1 (The Message) “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.”

I think most people who are familiar with Psalm 23 think more about the quiet waters, the green pastures, the right paths, the banquets and all of that.

We’re missing something with that.   

“The Lord”

“The Lord is”

“The Lord is my shepherd”

and therefore, I lack nothing.

Think about sheep.   When they are out in the pasture, they are sometimes in harm’s way.   There are coyotes, mountain lions, wolves, bears, cliffs to fall off of, thunderstorms where they have very little. protection.

Sheep don’t always have it easy.   

But David says,  “You are my shepherd,”

And because you are my shepherd, I lack nothing.

Because God is our shepherd, we have everything we need.

Not everything we want, but everything we need.   

When we face trials, God is there.

When we struggle with depression, God is there.

When a friend asks for help with a very difficult problem, God is there.

When those deep down personal problems and challenges that exist in almost every person in almost every family happen to you too,   God is there.

And because God is there, we lack nothing.

We probably want something – but lack nothing.

Because God is there, walking with you and with me through our pain and our struggles.

So, even if your life isn’t the green pastures right now, even if rather than quiet waters, you’re beside water that would kill you if you drank it, even if rather than a banquet, you are eating bread and water, remember and remwhere ourself, the Lord is MY shepherd.   

And the Lord is right there with you in those painful sheep like circumstance.

So, be encouraged, even when life makes it hard to be encouraged.

The Lord is My Shepherd – and yours too.

TV

“God, Say Something! Do Something!”

Psalm 22:1  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?  Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?”

The Psalmist was obviously struggling.   He was questioning where God was, why God wasn’t doing something, why God wasn’t helping him even though he was crying to God in anguish.

He wondered if God had left him.

That would be a really lonely and scary place.    To feel like you were abandoned by God, that would have to be one of the worst.

But what if that’s not where you are?

What if you firmly believe that God is here?  What if you firmly believe that God is in control?

But you can’t see it in part of your life.

You see it in church.   You see it in the people you’re friends with.   You see God all around you.   And it feels good.

It feels really good.    But there’s this one little thing. 

God appears to be standing right next to you watching you hurt.

It’s like He stands right next to you holding two Tylenol and a band aid for your pain.

He’s standing right next to you with a box of tissues (some time I’ll tell you the story of my church’s Kleenex policy. ) But He doesn’t offer you one.

He’s standing right there fiddling with the GPS on his Power of God smart phone but won’t show you the directions.   At least not beyond saying, “Come here.”

I believe there are a lot of us who feel that way.   We know God’s in charge.   We know He stands by those who love him.

And we do love him.

But we’ve got this “thing.”    To quote the Apostle Paul, it’s a thorn in our side.   If you could look into the hearts and souls of every person you meet, you’d see that everyone has “this thing.”

Sometimes, when we ask, God makes “this thing” go away.

Sometimes when we ask, God doesn’t make “this thing” go away but He gives us the power to live with and work through it.

Sometimes He says, “No my child, I will not take that thing away from you until you come live with me.”

But how do you deal with the times where you know God is there, you know He’s listening, but you don’t get an answer.

And that “non answer” is quite often God’s way of saying, “Not yet, my child.”

But God, do something! I know You are there.   I know You want what’s best for your children.  Help us to hear your answer, whether it’s yes, no, not yet or hmmmmn, I think you need to learn something before I answer.

Help us see that answer, to see you close and to feel your love and comfort inspite of our frustrations.

Amen

6 Years Ago Tonight

6 Years ago tonight, I was at the Grand Rapids airport.

Tonight I was at church.

6 years ago tonight, many dreams came true.

Tonight, we were at church to celebrate God’s faithfulness even in times of trouble.

6 years ago tonight, 9 families began a new chapter in their lives with 17 new children in their families.

Tonight, we were at church seeking God’s will for our church, our community, our lives.

6 years ago tonight, 17 children began a new life away from the tremors and terror of an earthquake.

Tonight, we were at church wrestling with the evil in this world and how to see God in tough times.

6 years ago, 9 families followed God’s leading and opened their hearts to 17 children who were traumatized by an earthquake in Haiti.

Tonight, we were at church praising God for his faithfulness even when things are difficult.

6 years ago, these 9 families and 50+ other families all around the United States stepped out on the next step of a journey.  It’s a a journey with an unknown end destination and very few clear signs on the way.

Tonight we were at church, trusting God to show us the way, even if it’s only 6 inches a time.

6 years after 83 children came to the United States from Haiti and joined their forever families, it was fitting to go to church.  

To celebrate God’s faithfulness.

To ask for His guidance to show His plan for us, our church, our community.

To be grateful for His leading.

To wrestle with the pain and the blessings that life in this world can bring.

6 years since the “Haiti 80” came home, God’s faithfulness is obvious, the struggles are real, the pain from the earthquake hasn’t disappeared.

But God is good.  

All the time.

And All theTime.

God is good.

Tom