What is your “preferred” future?
By Teresa LeNeave
The late afternoon sun was hot and the sheep seemed content to lay quietly beneath the shade of an oak tree. It was a lazy afternoon and no one, nor anything, wanted to move around much. The Shepherd walked to the edge of the pasture; leaned his staff against the bark of a crooked tree and sit down. Resting his arms on his bent knees he looks out over his flock, watching for the slightest movement that would tell him there’s trouble in the camp. He listens for the bleat of the lamb, but all he hears is the rustle of leaves in the wind and the faint sound of sand as it sweeps against the brush.
Leaning against the hard bark of the tree, the Shepherd begins to think about how much he loves his sheep and knows there is no reason they should ever be discontent. From experience, they knew their protector was near ... he was always near and they knew that. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Ps 23:1).
The sheep are always aware of his presence. It’s certainly not that they didn’t have significant desires or needs, but they were confident that if they had a need their supplier, the Shepherd, would find a way to provide it.
When the pasture grasses started to wear down or the water began to dwindle, the watchful Shepherd would move them to better pastures with more satisfying waters and plenty grass. “He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters”.
Suddenly, the Shepherd sat up erect, shaken out of thought by a noise at the far north of the field. Rising quickly he hurried across the field just in time to see a wild animal leap toward one of the weaker lambs. Running faster, he arrived to find one of his young lambs was already injured. With his staff, the Shepherd beat the vicious animal away from his precious lamb. With the predator lying lifeless, he reached across to pick up the bleeding little lamb, caressing it tenderly.
Certain the young lamb was alive, he began the task of restoration. “He restores my soul”. The lamb laid there in the arms of his Protector. He didn’t get angry at his Shepherd; he didn’t want to hide in a dark corner away from the other sheep; he didn’t want to pull the blinds and wallow in his own sorrow or pain. Instead, he let the Shepherd love and restore him back to health because he knew his hope rested in the Shepherd’s guiding hand.
In the presence of the Shepherd, the lamb was confident he would be able to “fear no evil”. He knew if he stayed in the presence of the Shepherd; if he let the Shepherd sooth the hurts, then, eventually he would be restored. He would anoint his head with oil and it would all be alright. The lamb’s job was to stay close to the Shepherd’s healing hands.
Jesus is the Shepherd who loves and cares for us this very way.
When we’re down, he is there to restore us. Restored means to be regrouped, returned back to; to gather together or rebuild in the sense of restoring a dilapidate house. How many times have we felt like an old house that had been let go until it was in total ruins? Maybe it was caused by too much sickness for too long a time. Maybe it was because we just never could seem to get enough money to pay all the bills. Maybe it was because we were lonely and loneliness made us bitter and hard to get along with.
If you need to be “restored” will you give Him the opportunity to restore your soul? If you don’t know him, you can. Genuine confession is simply a sincere desire to have Jesus in your life. Invite him in and repent. To repent is to turn and go the other way. That one act of faith will get God’s attention.
Like the Shepherd watches over, and protects the sheep, God will watch over and protect you. I’m reminded of an old proverb: Life will not give you what you desire or even deserve. Life will give you what you settle for. What is your preferred future? Don’t settle for less than the presence of God in your life.
© Kentucky Publishing, Inc.