The Good Shepherd

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I love owls. All kinds from feathered to figurines. My house is a veritable parliament of owls, of the Harry Potter owlery variety (minus the owl droppings, of course). My hubby has placed a strict owl ban on our home. In his best Severus Snape voice, he announced, boldly, I might add, “No owl of any kind shall enter this domicile by order of the Husbands Against Owl Decor. If a new owl breaks through the restricted barrier then it shall suffer my wrath.” He crossed his arms, threw back his head and exhaled his hearty, “Mwahahahaha.”

I’ve been good about honoring the ban. Sort of. My office at work has, cough cough, a few owl things. But, shhhh, don’t tell my hubby.

I blame my love for owls on my mom. She, too, had an affection for the wide-eyed creatures. Her owls, though, screeched 1970s Home Interiors. Think macrame and metal in the not-so-lovely shades of burnt orange and split-pea-soup green.

I blame another owl addiction on my mom. We are both night owls. We love the night life. Not so much to boogie. But to read and think. My mind is most alive when the rest of the world slumbers peacefully. Lately, however, I’ve lost my ability to stay up late. I’ve been utterly exhausted. I don’t know if it has to do with the sickness I’ve been battling for two months, the weather, stress, or a host of other things. But last night, Lady Di and I discussed the importance of rest and what it can do for our health—physical, mental, and spiritual. We talked about how Jesus is our Shepherd and how He is corralling us into His pen early every night so He can watch over us and take care of us.

As I crawled into bed at 8:00 last night (yes, 8:00…don’t judge!), God planted the word “shepherd” deep inside my heart. Like a metronome, it penetrated the depths of my sleep, ticking off God’s perfect beat to His most perfect Word. My dreams carried me over fields and into flocks and promised me rest. Sweet, God-given, much-needed rest.

Until, of course, my cat with excruciatingly painful halitosis chose to lick my nose. The bad breath is her thorn. She would be too perfect otherwise.

As I crawled out of bed, God spoke Psalm 23 to me. One verse at a time. He paused after each thought and waited. He waited for me to respond. So I did. We conversed Psalm 23. And it was precious and eye-opening and beautiful.

I’d like to share with you a portion of our conversation.

Psalm 23 (NIV)

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd

You are my Shepherd, Lord. That means I am part of Your flock, not the world’s flock. Oh how easy it is to see the other flock and yearn for its seeming “betterness”. But the world doesn’t care about me. Not like You do. You take care of me and watch over me.  I know You are my Shepherd, because I hear Your voice because I know Your voice because I know You. Thank You, Father, for choosing me to be Your sheep.

I lack nothing.

That’s a sobering thought, Lord. Especially in light of these past couple of months. They have been brutal. The waiting, specifically. But see, I’ve been waiting for answers from doctors and not from You. When I look back on all the pain and sleepless nights, You were there, pulling me through, guiding me to trust You, showing me that I truly lack nothing. You provide for ALL my needs. Needs that are as small as a smile from a stranger on a tough day to a big one like the doctor saying, “It’s not cancer.”I have a home, a loving husband (even if he is anti-owl), a generous family, a good job, food in my belly, clothes on my back, and medicine that is slowly healing my physical pain. And of course Jesus. I have Jesus. Jesus is all I need.

    He makes me lie down in green pastures,

Father, that’s what you’ve been doing these past few nights, huh? You’ve been forcing me to rest in the green, comforting pastures of my home. Because you know my mind never quits and that I try to fix who and what can’t be fixed. You know I am always thinking of what I should have done, should have said, what needs to be done, what I can’t do or don’t want to do. Or won’t do. You know the innermost workings of my heart and mind and that I ache to spend time in Your Word even though sometimes the most I can do is change into my pajamas and sit in my chair. You know the source of my pain even though the doctors don’t. Because You knit me together. You want me to rest so You can be You and I can be me.

he leads me beside quiet waters,

You lead, Lord. I follow. It really is that simple. Yet, I find it so difficult sometimes. When You called Your apostles, You gave them three words: “Come. Follow me.” And they did. They dropped everything and trusted You to lead them. And they encountered so many storms. Some literal, some metaphorical. But when they kept their eyes on You and trusted You, You quieted the storm and made the the waters quiet. You’ve been leading me through a storm lately, Lord. And when I stopped clinging to the boat and focused on You, you quieted the waters. And You know how I love the quiet.

    he refreshes my soul.

Oh Father, how you have refreshed my soul! I was feeling world-weary, weak-willed, and Word-wanting. You held Your staff, called my name, and drew me back into Your shelter. You cared for my wounds, healed me with Your Word, and lulled me to into heavy sleep with the warmth of Your embrace.

Thank You, my Father, for being my Shepherd. My Good Shepherd. Thank You for knowing me better than I know myself. For knowing when I need rest and then loving me enough to give it to me.

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15 thoughts on “The Good Shepherd

    • Thank you so much. This sickness has taught me to trust God. He sees around the bend. He knows what this means and why. He has taught me to appreciate moments when the pain subsides, when I feel Him rather than discomfort. He is so very good to me. I had been focusing on “the valley of the shadow of death” rather than on His light. When I keep my eyes on Him, and stay in His glorious light, then I am able to see, truly see, that I can do ALL things through Him. Because He gives me strength. And He is better than any medicine.

      Thank you for stopping by. I am a grateful sister. 🙂

  1. “You know the innermost workings of my heart and mind and that I ache to spend time in Your Word even though sometimes the most I can do is change into my pajamas and sit in my chair.”

    Come. Follow me.

    Heather, your struggle and your writing add so much power to these words. Reading through, as much as the desire to take your pain away, was those three words: come follow me. How following, giving up your life, carrying a cross, spreading the good news … all that “doing” we attach to “following” … Is often just another barrier in loving Him. In being loved by Him.

    You follow Him into your chair. You follow Him.

    Your words and your heart follow Him. Your life is His. And all you did in this post was change your pyjamas and sit in your chair. And shine so brightly.

    I cannot take away your pain, but I can connect with your soul and your heart. I can follow Him more closely because of how you follow Him.

    ((hug))

    • Paul, your words are a salve to my soul this morning. And you are correct. Whether in my chair, at work, in the car, in a pew, God is there. He is with me and I with Him. I follow Him…not this world. Not my doubt. Not the storm. Because He leads me. And I am delighted to go where He directs.

      It makes me think of that game we used to play as children, “Follow the Leader” where we had to imitate everything the leader did, or we were “out”. If we missed one swish of the hand or one lift of the leg, we were cut from the game. I enjoyed that game and the anticipation of the leader’s moves. I was never very good at it because I would get distracted by the kids on the bench making faces and random noises, or I would trip over my own feet. But I was always in awe of those kids who were mirror images of the leader, milliseconds behind.

      Oh how I want to reflect Him. How I want to keep my eyes focused on my Leader and not on the sideline naysayers. i don’t want anything to trip me up. Luckily for us, Jesus will lift us up every time we fall…

      I want to be one of His faithful followers, doing as He does, loving as He loves, forgiving as He forgives. He is the only leader I will follow. So many people follow pastors or authors or TV personalities, believing those people will lead them to salvation. But Jesus told us, “Come. Follow Me.” He never said, “Follow my followers.”

      Thank you for connecting with me, for being such a faithful follower of Him, and for making me a better follower. Big hugs to you, my friend.

  2. My Dear Heather, I’m so sorry to hear of your health problems. We both know that He does all things well, and for a reason, but the great thing is you have found your comfort and rest in the Source of it all. I’m praying for you, and if you need anything, seriously, just let me know. I want you to know that it’s great hearing from you. I have missed your wonderfully spiritual writing. 🙂

    • Hi Levi!! What a joy to hear from you. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your concern. It has definitely been a tough couple of months. I have another doctor’s appointment March 4 and I am hoping that will shed some light on the situation. I am on four meds and they are finally helping. Relief is a good thing.

      But I know God does everything for a reason. And in the midst of all of this, I have been doing a Bible study on believing Him and trusting Him. He has asked me over and over through the pain, “Do you really believe Me? Do you really trust Me?” I had to dig deep into my roots and remove a lot of the garbage that gets mixed in there over the years and discover what my relationship with Him is really all about. And I DO believe Him and trust Him. He has this in His capable hands.

      Thank you so much for your prayers and for being such a fine example of God’s love and compassion. Love and hugs to you, my brother.

  3. I thank you Heather your post has blessed me as well. We are sister in both a spiritual sense and our restless minds. Last night in fact, I went to bed and said, “I am so tired I am just going to trust you and go to sleep.” LOL Then it hit me that is exactly what I had not been doing. I like the sheep in the pen at night where He can watch over us! I am so going to remember that. I am so sorry to here you are suffering, but glad you know Him. I truly don’t know how people get through this life without Him; in reality, I guess they really don’t. Love and Blessing! me (denine)

    • It’s funny, isn’t it, how we fight resting? Really resting? We want to go and do and be everything to everyone. And we just simply can’t. He has whispered to me, “I am enough. Let Me be enough.” And then He said something to me that hit me pretty hard, “You can’t fix what’s broken. Only I can.” And oh how right He is. I sure like to fix things and people and situations. But I don’t have the answers. Only He does.

      I have wondered, too, as I sit in doctor’s waiting rooms and watch the people around me if they have the peace of God carrying them through. I wonder if they know Him. And not just know about Him, but really KNOW Him. Because He has made all of this bearable. The nights the pain overtook me and I had to go Urgent Care or the ER, He provided me with caring doctors who were God-fearing and tender. They looked in my eyes, past the pain, and saw Him and told me that God would get me through it. And He did. As always.

      Only He knows what is on the other side of this. And I am trusting Him. I don’t even care why anymore. For now, I am just grateful, as you say, to know Him.

      Love and hugs to you, sis!

  4. amen – good word – we will find rest in the Lord – always! I used to think the middle of the night was my best creative time – until I had a stroke and now I can’t stay awake past 9:30…which means I’m usually up and working by 5:30 – I never knew how sweet and still morning time could be! Praying for healing and comfort! By the way, my cat, Elvis, likes to put his paw halfway down my throat – I would take bad breath anytime! 🙂

    • Thank you so much for stopping by. 🙂

      I, too, find that my early-to-bed routine means I enjoy quiet mornings where God can speak to me with a clear head and without all the distorted noise a day can bring. And by starting my day with Him, I’m in a better place all day. Things don’t seem to penetrate my armor. 🙂

      That’s hilarious about your cat!! Oh my. I literally laughed out loud.

      Thanks again for your kind words. Have a blessed week.

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