Our pastor reminded us today that Psalm 23 is the antidote to worry. It was written by David, who had every reason to worry. Betrayed, left by his wife, bereaved of a child, cut off from Israel and having to feign madness to simply survive, David knew what it was to walk through the valley. He experienced the mountaintops, too, living as a shepherd and reigning as a king. He has been there, done that.
"The Lord is MY Shepherd."
That makes me HIS sheep. That means that HE has the responsibility to take care of me. Wow!
We brought home two horses the other day. Before we went to get them, we spent days working on the barn. The kids mucked out the chicken manure and made sure it was clean. They carefully checked for any nails or boards that might stick out and hurt the horses. The girls took down a wall and made the stalls bigger. They widened the door. Rick brought load after load of good dirt to fill in the stalls.
Steve came over and put up a new fence to make an area for any manure or compost. Daniel used the tractor to move any manure, and cleaned up any debris on the field. He tilled the area that needs new grass seed, and leveled it.
We scrubbed out the rubber watering bins and the feed buckets, then disinfected them. We checked to see if we had some good hay left, and good straw to bed the new horses down.
Today, it struck me: GOD does that for ME. He is MY Shepherd. He plans, prepares, and provides everything I need, each and every day, for my entire life. He will never leave nor forsake me. He is responsible, as my Shepherd, to lead me, to guide me, and to provide for me.
I belong to Him. Just as the horses now belong to Heather and to our family, and we must anticipate their needs and provide them with food, water, farrier, bedding, vet, companionship and training, I belong to God and He provides me with all of the things I need.
We love our horses. We see them as things of beauty and grace. It is no chore to go out to the barn and care for their needs. It's a joy and a privilege.
In the same way (only much, much more!) God loves me. He sees me through eyes of grace because of all Jesus has done for me, and is delighted to care for me all the days of my life.
The Good Shepherd knows best. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His Name's sake.
When a rider is training a horse, the horse doesn't necessarily understand what is best. Our horses came off the track, so they aren't familiar with saddles and blankets and stirrups. They are used to being hooked up to a sulky and running very fast at a certain pace. They are used to keeping the pace for the entire race.
And now, they are going to be asked to submit to a blanket and saddle, to a girth tightened around their belly, to stirrups bumping against their sides. They are going to have to put up with a rider on their backs. They must learn to go forward at a walk, and a trot, and a canter, on command. They'll have to learn to move sideways under the pressure of a leg, and to turn on a dime instead of the wide turn they need in order to pull a sulky. They won't be on a track - instead they'll be guided to a path in the woods, to a country road with cars whizzing by, to a gravel pit or a newly plowed field.
But, because they are good, well-bred horses, they will learn to trust their rider. Their lives will be enriched as they develop into what they are meant to be: pleasure horses, loved by a family.
God leads ME in paths I do not understand. I have to submit to His plan for my life, which sometimes includes pain and confusion, frustration and sorrow. Yet, I know that He is the Good Shepherd who cares very much for His sheep. I know that when I rest in Him, He works all things for good.
I hope that Pax and Kara learn to trust us. I hope they learn to love their riders, to respond to their commands, to listen to their voices.
I know I need to do the same. I need to Know the Shepherd. I must Love Him, Follow Him, and Listen to His Voice. I know that He is nearby, ready to save, never to leave. He loves me. Sacrificially.
Is the Lord YOUR Shepherd? Then think about this:
He provides. So trust Him.
He directs our paths. So follow Him.
He protects. So, rest in Him.
He blesses. So be thankful.