In Pursuit of God’s Heart – Part 1: Are you a good sheep?

IMG_7510

The book of Psalms was mostly written by King David, a former shepherd.  He is known in the Bible as the man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).   His writings reflect his observations of nature, something with which he was well acquainted as he spent time in the fields. David recognized God as his shepherd in Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing that I lack” (HSCB).  In pursuit of God’s heart, do I trust Him to be my Good Shepherd (John 10)?  More importantly, am I a good sheep?

The role of a shepherd is vital to the survival of the flock.  Margaret Feinberg, the author of Scouting the Divine, chronicles her time spent with a shepherdess in Oregon.  The shepherdess explained that “when a field becomes barren, sheep are unable to find safe new ground on their own; they need the careful guidance of their shepherd.”  In Psalm 37:3, sheep must trust their shepherd and be content in their pasture.  They are placed there for a reason.

To be honest, it has been a struggle for me to be content in my pasture.  I have written how I have seen God working in the midst of our new life in Louisiana, but everything hasn’t been “rainbows and unicorns”.  I miss the mountains from home, in Virginia.  I yearn for the familiarity of our church, schools, and community.  We moved from a county of 33,000 people to a parish of 112,000.  Here, roads, as well as stores, are congested. Frankly its just plain annoying.  Our house is…okay.  I left my “perfect for us” house in Virginia.  There are fantastic things about this house, but it came with plenty of quirks. One major factor is that many things just don’t work right, if at all, mainly the dishwasher.  A broken dishwasher with a family of 6 seems to be my plight in life, for those who know me well.

Our shepherd saw it fit to move us to a new pasture.  Apparently, ours was barren for us and as His sheep, we needed to be wise and trust our shepherd.  We have to obey and remain content in the pasture he has placed us.

The shepherdess in Feinberg’s book also said the chance of a flock surviving without its shepherd is zero.  She shared that sheep aren’t dumb, just defenseless.  I wouldn’t say our family’s lives would have been in danger had we remained in Virginia, but I do know how it feels to be out of God’s will.  If we are too busy dealing with our sin as a result of disobedience, we are leaving the door open for the enemy to attack, just as a flock would be threatened if they refused to follow their shepherd.

Trusting and obeying our Shepherd, as well as being content where He has put us, prepares our hearts for His leading. If we are too busy fighting the enemy as a result of our sin, we will miss God’s safe pasture within his heart.  There are blessings to be found in the pasture you are in!  There may be a time soon, where the shepherd sees fit to move you to another field.  He is the Good Shepherd, but are you being a good sheep, trusting and obeying where the shepherd leads, then finding contentment there?

We will soon be moving 30 minutes away.  Three moves in less than three years is a test of obedience (and patience).  My shepherd has proved faithful, and when He wants to lead me to a different field, I must trust Him.  I am thankful I chose to dwell here and enjoy this place.  I am also thankful we will not be so far away that I can still visit with the friends God added to our life since moving.  Encouraged, I look forward to our new pasture…with a working dishwasher.

signature

Whose are You?

mar blog

I always laugh when I see the phrase “I don’t feel like adulting today” or something similar. I have too many days like that.  Life has become over-complicated and I long for the days of being 5-years-old, sitting in my backyard making mud pies, while creating various imaginative scenarios.  The days of mud pie crafting are long gone, I often wish I could have a day where I could go back to the basics, without having to stress over caring for the little ones and all of the responsibilities of being a wife and mother.  I love my family, but I tend to overcomplicate things and stress over details that don’t really matter.

I do this in my spiritual life as well.  I have become enthralled with the life of St. Paul and how God wrecked him, to bring him back to the basics.  Draw him back to what really matters, back to God.  Paul was the elite of the elite in the religious world, knowing all there was to know about Jewish history and heritage, ensuring all others knew as well. He was so passionate about the laws of the Jewish faith, that violently persecuting those who spoke against those laws, or so he thought, became his mission.  Until, on a trip to round up more people who were a part of The Way (believers in Christ), God struck him blind and for the next few days.  God began stripping him of everything he had ever known and so fiercely believed in.  God broke him.  For three days, all Saul could do was to go back to the beginning, and cling to the only thing that remained, his Creator, God.

My oldest daughter shared with me about a friend that was hopeless.  She wanted to bring her a Bible and share scripture with her to help her find her hope there.  The friend’s struggles were far beyond any 12-year-old should have to bear, but my daughter wanted her to know the basics.  She wanted to let her know that she is loved and was created by a God who deeply cares for her.  She needed a basic foundation of God’s love for her.

Like Paul and that sweet 12-year-old girl, how often do I forget the basics, my spiritual foundation, whose I am?  Have I ever fully wrapped my brain around it?  I am a daughter of the King of the World (2 Corinthians 6:18), created in his image (Genesis 1:27), fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).  If I know these things in my head, have they gotten to my heart so that they reshape my thinking and my actions?  Do I live for others to see, whose I am?

The enemy loves to tell us who we are.  He can take over our thinking so quickly, making us believe we are not enough.  Not skinny enough, not happy enough, not holy enough…not enough.  My Heavenly Father only wants me to draw into Him so the enemy can stop telling me who I am NOT and God can tell me who I AM.

After all, he is the great I AM so He should know better than anyone.

Let’s all go back to the basics of remembering whose we are.  When life gets overwhelming, I have to come back to my foundation, God’s love for me.  Maybe it will make adulting a little bit easier.

signature