Good Shepherd Sunday!! If there is a Sunday that I enjoy going to church almost as much as Easter it is Good Shepherd Sunday. The hymns, the readings, the message - yes, they are all wonderful and glorious. But most of all? It is the peace that I leave with on this particular Sunday. Maybe it is a combination of it all, maybe it is a clearer understanding of how I am reassured that Jesus is my shepherd - and I am his sheep. Yes, that's it.
A shepherd knows each and every one of their sheep - their personalities of sort. The shepherd knows which ones stray, which ones stay with the flock. The sheep listen to the shepherd, are guided by the shepherd, and live life as one with the shepherd. That is what our Dear Jesus gives us - a life with Him as our shepherd.
Although I have been a lifelong Christian thanks to wonderful parents who guided me in my faith, there have certainly been times when my faith has not been as strong - when I have questioned, when I have wondered. There have been times when I have asked "Where are you God?" There have been times when I have been so distraught as to believe that God didn't hear my prayers. Yet, it has been those times that I have relied on myself to solve the problems, on myself to guide my path, on myself to control the pressures of this world.
When we rely on our OWN guidance, we stray. The ways of this world cannot bring us the daily and everlasting peace we are searching for. Please, don't get me wrong - there are many things that I might turn to believing that they provide me the relief from every day stress: a great bubble bath, a nice glass of wine, a decadent dessert, etc. Yet, the peace that I am looking for doesn't come from these things. The trials and tribulations of the day seems to seep it's way back into my life.
When I turn to God's word, though, there I find the peace I have been searching for. When I am actively in a Bible study with great friends, I find the emptiness that my heart seems to have when I am not engaged in His word. The refocus of my life on the Good Shepherd to "restoreth my soul" (NIV) Psalm 23, proves to be the only way to true peace. It does go back to SIMPLE FAITH. Faith in knowing that if I turn to God, He will provide. Faith that His provisions will be all I need. Faith that His strength will lift me when I can no longer lift myself. Hi is our Shepherd. He provides us the Living Word of everlasting life. He brings us out of the darkness to a life that is full and gracious and loving.
I challenge you to find that Simple Faith again. The one that takes a few moments each day to turn your focus on our Shepherd, the one who can provide the guidance that you might be lacking. The one that can heal us, body and soul. The one that provides. A prayer, a song of praise, a Bible verse . . . all ways to help us gain that focus. Know that prayers are reaching out to you who read this - He knows his sheep~~
"For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; 'he will lead them to springs of living water.' 'And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'" (NIV) Revelation 7:17