Sheep, Shepherds... and Surely!
Sheep, Shepherds… and Surely!
We are spending more and more time at home at the moment, and we may find ourselves with time on our hands and we may become lazier than we are usually, or with more time to think or to worry. I am guilty of all of these and find some distraction in scrolling the various social media platforms. Whilst they can be places to avoid at times, they can help me keep up with friends and family I can’t see right now, or sometimes where I express or share my thoughts and prayers or follow various random things of interest.
Twitter has me following many people, some friends, some famous or not, and often some particularly random groups too. My random love at the moment is Shepherd Jo and ‘Daily Sheep’ and other farmers and shepherds with their animals. I smile as I see new lambs that are born scrambling to their feet and I love dear old Humpady the grumpy old ram with a sore foot, who likes to eat apple tarts as a treat but gets jealous when the ewes, feeding their new-born lambs, get extra special food. I love following them and seeing how the animals are much-loved by their shepherds.
Another thing in these ‘lockdown days’ for me is making more time to read, not just my escapism novels which I love, but my bible, the Word of God. As I have struggled to be distracted from the worries of these Covid times, trying to push down anxiety and fear, I have drawn again on the things I know to give me hope.
During the pandemic I have read and re-read Psalm 23, a psalm that I often lean into when I am uncertain, worried, or anxious. Many will be familiar with it whether they go to church or not.
I have been savouring it like Humpady the sheep enjoying his apple tarts, but sometimes thought, “Do I [we] truly know the love of God?” The psalm reads, ‘the Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want’, and I remember that Jesus tells us, He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-18) and he laid down his life for his sheep. That is for you and for me!
We can all be like sheep, dumb or dozy at times, walking round in circles, straying from the fold, troubled by the enemies of this world, and in need of rounding up or rescuing. Did you know that if a sheep gets into trouble, especially if it rolls on its back when it cannot then get back up, it could die. The shepherd must find the sheep and help it back up. As much as we try, we all have these hard times and need to rely on the Good Shepherd, we need to know and listen to his voice. Jesus our shepherd will pick us up when we struggle, he will look after us, he will take us to a place of safety, a place of cover and shelter, a place where we can rest in green pastures and beside still waters, a place where He restores our soul.
Reading this psalm when it felt like I needed to take cover; feeling afraid and worried, feeling in the deep dark valley, even to the point of saying, “have I got a future Lord?”, I was drawn to verse six,
6 “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”
SURELY!! Surely goodness and mercy will follow me. “SURELY”… it leaped off the page. Why was I afraid of the unknown future? Whatever happens, I will always be with Jesus and WILL dwell in the house of the Lord forever. That’s all we need to know! He is with us always, no matter the circumstances.
As we enter into the spring and summer of 2021, not knowing what the future will look like, remember we live in a world that can hurt us but not destroy us. If you feel you are fighting enemies, invisible like Covid-19 or otherwise, or if you are trudging through a dark valley, even the valley of the shadow of death, then I urge you to read this psalm again. Take time to savour it like Humpady enjoys his apple tarts. Hear the Good Shepherds voice, He can always be trusted.
Look for the new life that the shepherd delights in and hope in the promises that cannot be seen. Because like a sheep can be frightened of its own shadow, not just the dangers it may face, the Lord our Shepherd, has come and rescued us and will restore our soul.
SURELY! Are you sure?