Thursday, May 9, 2013

Making Things Too Hard

God is so vast and His mysteries so deep that we will probably never fully fathom Him or His holiness or His wisdom and ways. But sometimes we can make too hard or too deep that which we would be better served receiving as a child. Sometimes the simplest explanation and realization is the best.

Recently I was praying with someone about the multitude of potentially overwhelming things we were facing—things that seemed to be humanely impossible. It was too much to handle and do all of them, and the way it would work out seemed impossible to perceive. Many of them seemed like we had no equipping to handle them, and the insecurity and fear and anxiety and apprehension was strong.

But, as I was praying, I found myself spontaneously asking God to prevent us from taking any path or taking on any chore that He was not leading us on, and suddenly I had the childlike revelation of what it means to be a sheep surrendered to following a shepherd. If we are following a good shepherd, as Jesus says He is, then we only have one care and that is to follow Him. We do not need to worry about His heart or any of the things He is responsible for. He will lead us to still waters and green pastures. He will protect us. He will look out for us and provide for us and He will not lead us on any path that He knows we can't take.

It became so simply clear—as the sheep of a Good Shepherd all I need to worry about is following Him. If I stray off the path He is leading me on then I become responsible for my own provision and protection and I am completely dependent on my own resources and ability, and I am alone and vulnerable in the dark woods and deep thickets of life. But, if as a good sheep I simply follow my Good Shepherd, then I can do so knowing that while I may not know where He is leading, or the path it will take, He will never lead me where He won't provide for me—and all of the needs I have, including words I need to speak, and things I need to do and face, will be taken care of by Him as long as I follow Him.

So, my responsibility becomes very simple. To follow. To make sure I am only doing and taking on what He gives me to do and take on, and that I am only going where He is leading. We would never call a shepherd "good" if they led their sheep on paths along cliffs that the sheep were sure to fall off of, or to pastures that were without food, or water that was brackish and poison, or if he abandoned them to the wolves. We would never call a shepherd "good" if they expected of their sheep what only a lion or an elephant or a fish could do. But Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and we are His sheep, and as such the only thing we must be guarded against is not following Him. If we are, no matter what is in front, we can trust Him to lead and provide what we need for it.


  1. As I read this I had the childlike revelation that it is even more simple than you say. For you say, "If I stray off the path He is leading me on then I become responsible for my own provision and protection and I am completely dependent on my own resources and ability, and I am alone and vulnerable in the dark woods and deep thickets of life. But, if as a good sheep I simply follow my Good Shepherd ..." But we are not good sheep! We are prone to wander and our Good Shepherd knows that. So, if I stray off the path He is leading me on, "His rod and His staff, they comfort me." They comfort me because they are used to guide me back to the path! Get it? Just as our Good Shepherd has taken it upon Himself to guide his sheep, so He has taken it upon Himself to keep His sheep with Him. What joy that I do not have to depend on my own fickle focus or weak will to follow Him -- Christ in me does it all! "For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13)

    1. Hi Amy! Thanks for reading and commenting. I agree with you to a point. I do believe He pursues us and corrects us and chastens us to bring us back onto His path . . . but there is a whole lot of pain and thorns in there, and we may not always stand up to the devil (i.e. put on the armor of God that we may stand up to him). Even as Christians God allows us our choices, and yes, absolutely, if we wander He seeks to bring us back, but that can't be a reason to get lazy in keeping vigilant and sober (and I am not saying in any way that you are saying this) and live thinking we can do whatever we want and He'll bring us back and take care of us. Too often we can wander into our own plans and ways and while He never leaves or forsakes us, He won't bless those ways either, nor necessarily provide in them. The main context of what I felt He showed me was in feeling like there are many things ahead I believe He has called me to be in which I feel completely inadequate to deal with, or to know what to say in, and yet, as long as I know it is Him I am following into them and not myself inserting myself into them, I don't need to worry---He will provide where He leads. He will give me words. He will give me ways. He will make His will work out in and through me. I simply need to follow and trust. I don't necessarily believe that if I took off on my own and sought some speaking engagement He didn't lead me to that He would bless that effort or fill my mouth with His words, but if I know He has called me to do a service for someone, and I am following Him into it, then He will fill me with His words. Not sure if all that makes sense, but maybe it helps clarify what I was sharing and the context of it.


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