Without a Shepherd…

I snatched this quote from my good author, Max Lucado…

Without a Shepherd, sheep can’t rest. Neither can we.

Sheep wander. They have no direction without the shepherd. And even though they’re tired, the shepherd has to make them lie down. Without a Shepherd, sheep can’t rest.

Neither can we. We’ve been at the hospital off and on for now four days. I’ve ran to other areas of the hospital to visit other sick folks, I’ve been in and out of the office between visitation hours, and I’ve shared my hope in Christ with several individuals in the waiting room. Some individuals I’ve talked to recognize their need for The Shepherd. But some are wandering souls. They are broken hearted over the condition of their loved one, and they are restless. They weep as one with no hope, because they are hopeless without The Shepherd.

But I can’t be too hard on those individuals. After all, we Christians are just as bad. For me, I’ve not done very well allowing The Shepherd to lead me beside still waters. I’ve not allowed Him to restore to my soul. So yesterday He had to MAKE me lie down in green pastures. I think I told you all that I am taking a couple of classes at USC Upstate this semester. A couples of days prior to the first day of class I had a strong sense that I had not spent enough time praying about that decision, but I signed up anyway. It was on the second day of classes that Poppy broke his foot, and that weekend we gladly brought them to stay in our home so we could care for them. Unfortunately I was unable to enjoy them like I want and need to because every night was consumed with homework and quizzes. How could one Math class require so much homework and so many quizzes?? Not to mention the chapters I have to read for a Public Speaking class that I could, in reality, teach. I took a 3-day Public Speaking class in Columbia several years ago, and that 24 hour class has served me well. So for the first two weeks that Poppy & Grandma Ellen were here I sat at the Dining Room table every evening and begrudged every second I had to spend on homework. Several nights I’d receive an email or private Facebook message or a text from individuals needing me to encourage them, but I couldn’t do anything about it because I was doing homework. It was from that same spot in the Dining Room Sunday night that I watched from afar as Clay, Todd, Carmela and Ellen cared for Poppy, evaluated his condition, and coerced him into going to the Emergency Room. I couldn’t help because I was, yes, doing Math homework! By Wednesday morning I was an emotional wreck. My house was a wreck, my laundry was piled up, Poppy had undergone major surgery the night before, his life was still weighing in the balance, and I needed to study for a 5 chapter Math test, 2 chapters of which I had not even looked at. I knew where my heart and my passion rested, but I needed to do about five hours of homework and reading instead. I sat at the table with MyMathLab website pulled up on my laptop, my Math notebook, calculator, and pencil spread out before me, and I cried like a baby as I tried to study during my “lunch hour.” My head was pounding with what felt like needles shooting back and forth from one temple to another. I could not retain anything I was studying. Finally I sat back, took a deep breath, clicked off of the Math website and over to this site where I post every day, and I began writing yesterday’s update about Poppy. It was crazy how my heart was immediately at rest, my headache went away, and I felt peace all the way to my soul, for the first time in several days. When I finished the post I got my Bible and a couple of devotional books out and had some serious time with the Lord. I needed guidance. I needed balance. I needed my Shepherd. And the place He took me was amazing.

I mentally laid out on the table my commitments (not counting the obvious as wife, mother and homemaker). Not in any particular order, from left to right I laid out…my full time position at Hannah’s Hope Ministries, opportunities to minister to individuals in crisis at any given time, taking care of Poppy and Grandma Ellen in our home for several weeks to come, teaching a Ladies Bible Study, teaching a Ladies Sunday School class, teaching a College Bible Study, serving on a very active committee at my church, and taking two college classes. I seriously visited each priority several times, and determined that the only things laid before me that I was willing to wipe off the table were the classes. I searched my heart as to my motive for signing up for classes in the first place, and I felt quite guilty with my conclusion. I cried and confessed, and cried some more. I don’t want to be a quitter. I don’t want to be a failure. I want to finish what I start. And I also don’t want to miss one opportunity to minister to anyone. The Lord reminded me of how He packed my bags. I know what my passion is. I know what fuels my fire. I know what energizes me – ministering to folks through writing, personal encounters, and teaching. I prayed for wisdom and direction, and I got it. I made the decision to withdraw from the classes while I still could, and IMMEDIATELY the heavy burden was lifted. Rather than being a clueless sheep wandering around trying to be Wonder Woman, I surrendered to The Shepherd. And last night, for the first time in several nights, I slept like a baby. The Shepherd had to MAKE me lie down in green pastures, and I’m so glad He did! I drank from the still waters of trust and surrender, and my soul was restored.

Why do we expend so much energy thinking we have to do it all? We can say no and still be a Christian. We can say no and still have a testimony. We can say no and not be a failure. But we often refuse to, therefore The Shepherd has to MAKE us lie down in green pastures. And once we surrender, we rest well.

Without a Shepherd, sheep can’t rest. Neither can we.

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul” (Ps. 23:2&3).

Hope

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