“Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” (Ps. 95:1-7)
Over time, we learn to kneel before the Shepherd and graze on the blessings he provides
… at peace …
Certain things we hold onto or pursue seem so very important at various stages of life, but they slowly lose their shine and the green pastures of time alone with him becomes ever more appealing. In prayer and contemplation we taste the goodness of our God, helping us let go of restrictive inner patterns upon which we have relied, things which drive us to react the way we do, which herd us like sheep into conformity with what seems impossible to change.
‘Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.’
We ruminate upon his word, upon Spirit insights showing us our need of healing grace to erase the marks of being sheared by old wounds, upon the ease with which we may at last let go of chasing the wind to let him win our hearts completely and wholly, white as snowy wool, free from flight, keeping our sights on his great love peeking above every horizon.
We chew the cud of viewing God in the glory of his Son, and rest.
‘In the quiet of our souls we sing your praise. In the stillness of our hearts we remember that you save, and take courage in your name. When we encounter obstacles within or without, you lead us through what may at first be painful to face into scenes of pastoral presence which refresh and renew us. You still walk in our midst when mists of malice arise. You mediate your covenant love though rainclouds form and sometimes send us running for cover at the direction of your rod and staff.’
As those who serve in leadership capacities, we may experience the vulnerability of being in wide open fields with wolves nipping at the heels of his flock, but the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, is ever watching over his people. Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on in the challenges we face until he comes, we need not be fleeced by those things which would rob us of the joy of being counted one of his own.
Wooly worry may cause us to fall into following a path where the heat of heated discourse or curls of curtailed influence weigh us down; where the sheer weight of opposition to the gospel is deeply felt and welts from buzzing flies of tireless assault wear us down; where the uncertain times in which we live stoop shoulders with the heaviness of concern and replace a lightness of heart where all fear is shaved away and our lives are only reared as suppliers of his warm hope to the world with joy instead.
May we hear his call to be sheared of all that weighs us down, entangles, and trips us up.
Will we listen for the voice of the Shepherd whispering our name to do the same work of transformation in and through us he has done in countless others who have gone before? Will the peacefulness of his sheep grazing in grace keep drawing the world to him against the backdrops of racial tensions and fences of hatred?
Come, let us worship and bow down, and rest … testing his word to see that it is sure.
‘Creator of the universe who threw all matter into space and shaped what mattered in your cosmic plan, shake the heavens and earth through your people’s prayers which rise as incense of surrendered trust that you do all things well. We lift up the unfolding story in which you have faithfully heard and responded to the cries of your people throughout history, those who have recognized and declared your great and loving promises to rescue and redeem.
You go before us and behind us, placing hedges of protection round our souls, sheltering us in your fold. May we never bleat in fear, but rest safely in the sheer beauty of your nearness.
Awesome God who knows the joys and sorrows of this earthen sod we tread, take away all dread so that as your sheep, we may come and go to serve with open hearts, pointing others to the gate of freedom in Christ, lost and found in ‘wonder, love, and praise.’ Amen.
Many thanks to Mark Shearer for the use of this wonderfully beautiful photo.