As another year of Journey Together (my woman's bible study) begins, I am excited to not only get back into relationship with some amazing ladies but also to get back into the word. I hate to admit it but when summer hits and my focused studies end I tend to let my personal reading time drop as well. So this morning when Isaiah was not wanting to settle at 4:45 am I decided to pull out my bible and my current study and dive in. This year I am leading the group so I find it even more important to stay committed to my reading. We are beginning an 8 week study on trust and starting with Psalm 23. Even those of you who don't know any or many bible verses from memory, you will likely know this one as it is one of the most famous passages in the bible. I actually think the more you think you know it, the more you need to spend time really reading it. I know that I have heard this verse more times than I can count but it wasn't until this morning when I read over it several times and began to break it down that it was really able to speak to me about what it means to have God as my shepherd.
I love verse two when David talks about how, "He makes me lie down in green pastures," referring to the Lord giving him rest. Not just any old rest but contented and secure rest. Boy does that sound good to this tired mama! The passage continues on describing how like a shepherd does with his sheep God leads, guides and restores us. Then verse 4 says, "your rod and your staff, they comfort me." This made me stop and think. How does a shepherd use a rod? It is used for counting, guiding, rescuing and protecting. No wonder it is comforting to the sheep. If one of them wanders off, the shepherd will know because he keeps count of each sheep. Not only will he know, but he will seek after that one sheep if it is lost. Just as Jesus seeks after us when we are lost. No matter how big the herd, just one of us straying is worthy of his time to bring us back. What an amazing thought! A shepherd will also use the rod to keep away any predators after his sheep. I like to think of Jesus swinging a big stick right at Satan every time he tries to go after one of his sheep. I know that it helps me to trust my Heavenly Father when I know that not only am I important to him but that He is always there to protect me and guide me and that even when I stray He will never stop seeking after me.
I think that being a mother is if not my main role, one of my most important roles at this point in my life. So I often take whatever I am learning and think of how it applies to motherhood. Written in my leaders guide as a note to this passage is a line that really made me think. It says, "God has called us to be shepherds of others but we cannot BE shepherds if we don't have a shepherd." If our purpose in life is to live like Jesus how can we do that if we don't know Him? Our children first experience God's love through our love. In the same way they first learn how to shepherd others by the experience of having us be their shepherd. Think about it...it is our job to guide them, lead them down the right path. We assure that they get rest and that they are safe from harms way. When we become mothers we instantly become shepherds! I am always humbled by what God uses us women for. What a gift that we can be that kind of example to our children and that they can first experience God through us. Looking at it in that light and realizing that I am capable of shepherding others I feel challenged to be a shepherd outside of my own home. This is how I want to come across to the world so that when they are in my presence they can't help but see Jesus through me.
Sorry to get so long winded on you. I blame it partly on my dad who is notoriously long-winded, especially now that he preaches for a living! But it also speaks to the amount of truth this passage has revealed to me. I love when you can come away from time spent in the word changed by what you read. I hope that those of you who read this take some time to dive into this passage and let it truly wash over you and impact the way you think and live. I promise you won't regret it! And who knows, you might be the long-winded one unable to keep yourself from passing this on to others.