Psalm 23:1-3a – The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. (NIV)
When I visited New Zealand some years ago, the host of our bed-and-breakfast sheep ranch heard of my interest in biblical sheep, and arranged to bring down some sheep to a nearby sheepfold. What are sheep really like? I expected docile, timid sheep. But, to my dismay, they were anything but. Fearful of the stranger — me — they reared on hind feet and glared my way. Then it was yours truly who felt afraid. Timidity, for both sheep and humans, reminded me of our great need for still waters from which to drink, or else — guess what — we rise up on hind feet in dismay and walk away.
The Lord knows our need for a safe spot, a calming spot, to ease the fraying nerves of our mortality. "Come to the waters," come taste and drink of life-refreshing streams. Why do we get so uptight and shy away? Is it part of our humanity, this timidity in facing new things, hard things, worrying things? You name it, we have all been there. Maybe this is such a time.
As we reflect back, when was it that the Lord last guided us beside still waters? The inner peace at such times is awesome. But, sadly, we soon slip back again and rise up on hind feet facing a new challenge, another day. Is this fear of the untried way part of our humanity, our built-in dependency on a great God? Probably. It's a blessing when seen in its true light. We are created with this need to depend on God.
As we walk through life's valleys, pastures, hills, and deep caverns seeking calm waters, we learn through each episode of hind feet rearing that the Lord is dependable and through it all feeds and restores our souls. So, it is in the struggle to let go and follow sheepishly that we learn the Lord is our faithful Shepherd, and we are — hallelujah! — not lacking in any good thing. Even the suffering is a good thing, for in suffering we slow down and find those still, refreshing streams down by the riverside.
Let us close our eyes now and see our Shepherd close by, beckoning us. Trust! Follow! Drink!
Prayer: It is so hard to let go, Lord. We have been hanging on for dear life, walking around on hind feet, defensively. Forgive us, Lord, for trying to go our own way, filling up with all the wrong things. We have been so empty, so spiritually malnourished. Here we are now in Your quiet green pasture, lapping at Your still waters. Thank You, Lord, for restoring our souls. Amen.