The Good Shepherd

Have you ever had something that you are addicted to? “Hi! My name is Laurie and I am addicted to Diet Mountain Dew.” I love that gold drink and the taste of it. I love treating myself to a fountain drink every day at the gas station. Although I love that soda, I have also been convicted and told that it isn’t good for me. I have known this for years, but haven’t been willing to give it up because I feel like I deserve at least one thing in my life that is just for me. It has been my special treat! I know that might sound crazy to you, but I have hung on to that treat like a toddler does to her special blanket or pacifier. Because of recent events with kidney stones, I am finally giving it up. Although it pains my soul to do this, I know that I must. I can proudly say, “It has been ten days since my last drink.” Please pray for me!

I know that some of you can relate to wanting to hold on to something in your life even though it might not be the best thing for you emotionally, physically or spiritually. It is hard to let go of things that make us feel better. I knew that Diet Mountain Dew wasn’t good for me, but I wanted to drink it anyway. I was being stubborn. I didn’t want to listen to that little voice inside me that was telling me to “walk away from the soda.” I was acting like a stubborn sheep who wasn’t listening to her master’s voice. I was allowing another voice to lead me and guide me and when we don’t listen to the voice of truth, it can lead us down the wrong path.

I would like to share some information about sheep that I find fascinating. I found this information in the Bible study “Finding I Am” by Lysa TerKeurst. Sheep are defenseless animals. They are prone to walk off and get lost. They follow other sheep without thinking. They are also very stubborn and have poor eyesight. When I look at those characteristics, I find myself being able to relate to those cute, wooly animals. I have a tendency to go astray because I get so focused on doing what I want to do. I seem to get myself into so much trouble without realizing it. I also can be very stubborn and not realize it until I get myself into a messy situation.

Lysa tells a story about a particular sheep that I think we can all relate to. “He started eating some grass and while eating the grass thought, Wow, this grass is pretty good. The pleasure of immediately satisfying his desire probably got him off track, and he found himself not paying attention to the other sheep around him. And then all of a sudden he looked up, and all the other sheep were nowhere to be found. He probably didn’t have any idea he was off track. He may have been out of sync with the others for a while but had no idea.”

I can really relate to that sheep. I am a very focused and driven person. When I am doing something, I am so focused on getting it done, that I can easily ignore what is going on around me. I ignore the voice that is telling me to stop and rest. I ignore the voice that is trying to tell me that I am going overboard and need to step back and look at the whole situation. The voice that I am ignoring is trying to get me to listen to Him because He cares about me and wants to take care of me.

That voice that I am talking about is the voice of the Good Shepherd. In Jesus’ day and age, shepherds cared for their sheep in so many ways. At night, the shepherd would gather the sheep in an enclosure and become a gate for them. He would lay at the entrance so he could protect them and keep them safe through the night. During the day, he tried to make sure they stayed on the right path. But if one sheep were to stray, he would go and get that sheep and bring it back to be with the others. He led them with his voice. Because their eyesight was so poor, they relied on listening to their master’s voice. They trusted and followed it until they got focused on something else. Then, they would have to be corralled back into the fold.

One of the things I have struggled with the most in my life is believing that God is good. I know in my heart that He is, but when bad things continue to happen, I really struggle. That is why it is so important for me to focus on truth. Lysa says, “It’s so important that we stay in the presence of truth and actively keep the lies of the enemy out of our minds. Our thoughts are so powerful. We must make them work for us instead of against us.” It is a daily struggle for me to keep my thoughts focused on truth and not on the negative. I have to recognize the difference between lies and the truth and sometimes that is hard to do. There are many wolves out there that are dressed up in sheep’s clothing and we have to be able to recognize the difference and the only way to do that is to listen to the voice of truth. 

Just last night I was struggling with some issues and I finally realized that I really don’t deserve anything. I am a sinful woman who needs to realize that everything I am given is a gift. Each day is a gift. Everything I own is a gift. My family and friends are a gift. I think I have gotten so wrapped up in the answers I don’t have that it has made me frustrated and doubting God.

Lysa TerKeurst poses this question. “I wonder sometimes if I want the answer to the cry of my heart more than I want God’s plan.” That question really made me think. All of my life all I wanted was my Dad to love me. Now, there isn’t anything wrong with wanting my Dad to love me. But, I became consumed with it. Everything I did was to make him love me. I became so wrapped up in pleasing him that I forgot that I had a heavenly father who loved me even more. I didn’t realize how much God loved me until I was in my forties. Instead I made myself sick trying to please my Dad. My Dad made my heart ache and I longed for a relationship with him. That ache has stayed with me and it has affected every part of my life.

I feel things deeply. I long for things to be right in this world. I want a “happily ever after” for everyone. I really do! I hate all the evil and bad things that are happening in this world. It makes me sick to see people hurting and families falling apart. But, when I focus on just the negative, that is when I get in trouble. I wish there was a news channel that would show us that some good is happening in this world. But, all I need to do is look around me with a grateful heart. I need to focus on the little things that I see that God is doing in my life and in others.

The bottom line is we have a Good Shepherd. John 10:11 says, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” With Easter approaching, I need to be reminded that Jesus laid His life down for us. He became the sacrifice that we needed so we can have eternal life with Him. There wouldn’t be any hope for us if He wouldn’t have done that. When I get discouraged or frustrated I need to remember what Jesus did for me. He became my Good Shepherd and He continues to care for His sheep every single day. I might not understand His ways, but He would never to do anything to harm me because it simply isn’t in His nature.

I pray these words will be helpful to anyone who is struggling or doubting out there. I can relate and we need to pray for one another and focus on truth. I am going to leave you with one final verse. Until next time dear friends….

Psalm 92:15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.”

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