"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want." (Psalm 23:1)
Sometimes, it feels downright unusual to think of ourselves--God's children--as sheep.
And so very often, lost.
If you release a sheep into the wilderness, it most likely will not survive, because sheep simply lack the necessary survival skills needed to withstand the unpredictability of mother nature and the wild. Instead, they are completely dependent upon their shepherd. The sheep learn to come when the shepherd speaks because, ultimately, the shepherd's plan is so much better. The shepherd's plan keeps the sheep alive, safe, and thriving.
Psalm 23:3b reads, "He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake."
Or, in other words, “He leads me in right paths.” "Paths", in Hebrew translation, means a well-defined trail. Once again highlighting sheep's need for their shepherd, because even when the trail is incredibly well-defined, they will still become lost without guidance. Showing a tendency to wander away, no matter how obvious the path. But, the shepherd? The shepherd knows the trails. The shepherd has been there before, and the sheep trust that knowledge.
Seven years ago, I found myself wandering more than ever before. Calling myself a lost sheep feels like a huge understatement. My lifelong battle with anxiety had once again overcome every part of me, incessantly pulling me away from my walk with God, my faithful Shepherd. I found myself at a serious crossroad in my life--with my anxiety leaving me absolutely crippled with fear, day-in and day-out. My faith had always been a crucial part of my life, and although I knew God was there, I felt as though He had abandoned me. For, how could our Father, the Good Shepherd, have let me wander this far, without coming to get me?
The thing was, He did not leave me. Not for one second. Some of my cries during those months were in the form of silent tears soaking my pillow, while others were loud, audible weeps at my kitchen sink and during my drive alone to work. The problem was, I was pursuing every wrong path to relieve my fears, and I had wandered into the dangerous wilderness--alone.
Timid and helpless.
Lent was approaching quickly, and I threw up one last cry for help. A loud, desperate, on-my-knees kind of wail. And there it was. An undeniable nudge. My Shepherd and His staff. Pulling me in close, while breathing new meaning into my weary heart.
It wasn’t simply a poke to prompt me back toward the well-defined path. It was a poke to prompt me back toward something I, myself, had abandoned.
It had been sitting on my bookshelf, quietly collecting a layer of dust and baby fingerprints.
I could not even remember the last time I had opened it.
But, He made it clear, and I spent the entire Lenten season diving into His Word, as He carried me back through the wilderness and to the safety of the righteous path, once again.
It was during those exhausting months that I humbly realized--I physically, mentally, and spiritually could not survive without my Shepherd.
And though I wandered far, He pursued me.
He chased me.
He ran after me.
He brought me home with Him.
One of the greatest sources of anxiety in our world today is uncertainty. We are continuously making decisions and constantly choosing which path to take. There is no greater relief to those anxieties than wisdom. The wisdom of someone who already knows the path we will walk. The wisdom of our Good Shepherd.
Because, God? He has a reputation to uphold and a promise to fulfill! And the more we--as God's sheep-- learn to follow our faithful Shepherd, in this Psalm, David promises, He will lead us in the right path. What incredibly promising reassurance, to know that the decisions I make today, tomorrow, and each day following, will be righteous, as long as I walk under His shepherding.For, even when the events may not necessarily meet my hopes and expectations, the decisions will be correct, because any decision made with God as the central focus is the right one. There lies His promise---a promise upon which we can always-and-forever count.
Follow Contributing Writer - Elizabeth Spenner