Grace and Peace to you.
When we pray for God our shepherd to lead us, we usually have green pastures in mind. But when Peter and James healed a paralytic, preached to the crowd, and testified to the authorities who arrested them, they didn’t do this out of their own personal desire; they did it because God led them to. God didn’t exactly lead them beside still waters.
Our lives are richest in blessing, peace and vibrancy when we live not according to our own impulses, but in harmony with God’s grace. Whether it is toward peaceful rest or challenging action, God leads us from within, guiding, nudging, sometimes compelling us, and leads us from without, alluring, beckoning, pleading, needing us. We much prefer going our own way, of course? so we do what we can to ignore God’s shepherding. One way is to believe that God is on our side, so that we don’t feel the need to listen to God. We already know. Another way is to limit our faith to ideas, so that we can “believe” without actually acting. Another escape is to be busy, so that we believe we can’t afford to slow down as much as is needed to listen to God. Many believers are so sure and busy that if God really is a shepherd, they’re atheists.
You will not likely know God’s will for your life by pushing hard. You’re more likely to find out by listening for the voice of your shepherd and following. Whether you feel the need to stand up and act or lie down and rest, let God shepherd you. Let the Spirit within you and in others speak to you. Let God’s “rod and staff” gently lead you. Rather than deciding where you ought to be, discern where your shepherd is, and be there. Renounce all your ideas of where God ought to lead you. Let the shepherd decide. In stillness, listen. In openness, wait to hear. In humble trust, resolve to follow the shepherd before you know where he’s going.
Don’t resist when the shepherd leads you either to pastures greener than you think you deserve or valleys darker than you think you can handle. If you are with your shepherd, you are in the right place. You are in “the house of the Lord.” Listen, trust and follow. And don’t worry about saving the world. That’s God’s job. Neither shrink back in despair nor run ahead on your own; just stay with the shepherd. Just show up and take your place in the flock, where God needs you. Surely goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes