The Good Shepherd knows where you are and what you've been through, and it brings Him great joy to care for you.
"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." Psalm 23:1-3a (NIV)
The women sit in a circle around the table. Some are young moms who have just dropped their children off in the nursery. Others are retired grandmas transitioning to a new season. Every age and stage of life is represented. Together we're getting ready to begin a weekly study.
Before we start, the leader says, "Let's go around the group and everyone share how they're feeling this morning in one word."
The universal answer: tired.
That happened years ago, and yet I often think of the answer those women gave that morning. I remember it when I get together with a group of friends and we talk about our busy schedules. I recall it when looking at social media updates. I ponder it while watching TV when I see the hectic pace our world asks us to keep.
We are tired. And when life brings challenges, the little bit of margin we may have is quickly taken up. We find ourselves weary and then wonder why it's so hard to enjoy our lives.
Although we love our independence, the truth is we need someone to watch out for us, to tenderly care for us, and to make sure we get our rest. In other words, we're like sheep in need of a shepherd.
Without the care of a shepherd, sheep would soon get in trouble. If sheep followed other sheep, the flock would be worn out, in danger, and deprived of what's needed to survive.
The same thing happens to us. When we let the world around us define our need for rest, we put our hearts at risk.
The good news is we have a Good Shepherd. His Name is Jesus. He doesn't want to drive us so hard that we fall down from exhaustion. He doesn't want to force us to go through life without nourishment and refreshment. When we are exhausted and feel like we're just "doing what we have to do," He invites us to pause and rest.
The Bible speaks of God as our Shepherd. And as I read Psalm 23, my tired heart longs for such tender care: "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" (Psalm 23:1-3a).
A full schedule and an empty heart are a sure sign it's time to stop and consider if I'm following other sheep or finding the Shepherd. Usually, I'm following the wrong lead and realize the need to draw closer to the Shepherd again. He's promised I will lack nothing, and I discover that afresh each time I come close.
Our Shepherd knows this about sheep: They're prone to stray. They don't even mean to much of the time. They get distracted by what looks good and can easily take a long walk that wears them out.
If that's happened to you, it's okay to ask the Shepherd to come get you and bring you home. Tell Him your heart is hungry and thirsty. Tell Him you need to lie down (yes, go take a nap!). Tell Him your soul needs to be restored.
You're not going to be in trouble. Shepherds understand sheep. Yours already knows where you are and what you've been through, and it brings Him joy to care for you.
Lord, I'm so grateful I belong to a good and faithful Shepherd like You. Thank You for watching over me and caring for all my needs. You understand me even better than I understand myself. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 62:1-2, "Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken." (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What are you holding, out of fear? What is preventing you from real nourishment in your life? Where do you need to stop striving and instead begin trusting again?