Monday, October 14, 2013

The Good Shepherd

For years (40, actually), "The Good Shepherd" stood in a field across from a local church. The Good Shepherd was actually a dead tree that a local woodworker had carved into a shepherd, complete with a lamb in one arm and the other arm raised toward Heaven. One day I drove by and noticed it was gone.  I assumed it had rotted and had to be cut down. It saddened me.  I loved driving by that Shepherd!

The other day on my way to work, I noticed that he'd returned! He was darker now and shinier.  I read in the paper that he had indeed been the victim of wood rot. He had been cut down seven years ago (really?  It had been that long?) and had undergone an extensive five-and-a-half year restoration. Funny thing...when I drive by now, he almost looks like he's smiling...I never noticed that before. 

I think that happens in just about every one of us at some point in our walk with God.  We become weary, lost in the woods. We lose the trail markers. We wander off onto unknown trails. The thrill of the hike loses its appeal. We get bored because we've traveled this path so many times and it's too familiar. We come across a trail map and realize that we're not as far as we thought we were. We become angry, sad, frustrated, discouraged. We just want to sit down and give up. Where is our Guide? Why did He abandon us in the middle of the woods? It's getting dark and we don't have a flashlight. We're hungry and we have no food. We're thirsty. Our throats are parched and we've run out of water.  

Or, we feel as though we are victims. Victims of rot. We have been cut down. Discarded. We've faded. We're spent. Our time has come and gone. We look at that spot where we once stood tall and wonder if someone else will replace us in our position. Are we to stay in this place forever?

Take heart! God has not abandoned you. He has not forgotten you. Sometimes we need to be taken out of the woods, taken off the place of ministry, taken away from our position in order to rest, to be restored.  Sometimes, it may be an extensive restoration. Five and a half years seems like a long time to restore a dead tree!  It seems to me that it could be done in...oh, I don't know...a week? But I'm not an expert on wood restoration; neither are we experts on God's methods of restoration. But we need to trust that He, the Master Woodworker, the Trail Guide knows our needs and will not place us back in the woods, back in the field until He decides that we have been completely restored.

God said to Jacob, in a dream, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you. When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the Lord was in this place and I was not aware of it! How awesome is this place!" (Gen 28:15-16). He has not removed us to abandon us. He is in this place! He will bring us back in His time, so we can praise Him! 

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:1-4)

Remember, during your restoration process, even though you may feel empty, alone and discouraged, you are never alone. I will never leave you nor forsake you (Joshua 1:5). The Good Shepherd holds you, his precious lamb, close to his heart with one hand, while He reaches toward Heaven, interceding for you with the other. And when you are restored, people just might notice that you are shinier...and smiling...something they may not have noticed before.

Blessings Along the Path,

(Be sure to scroll down to see the Restored Good Shepherd picture)

Song of the Day:
Lead Me On (Audrey Assad)

1 comment:

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