Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

In getting ready for Trunk or Treat at Hope this week, I was working on costume ideas.  While it sounds fun, it felt overwhelming.  I have lots of ideas so the decision process has been more about what could I reasonably execute with my time, energy and money available.  Life has felt a little challenging lately.  My mental energy has been higher than my physical which means I was chasing my tail a lot.  I realized today that one of the reasons that I have been cranky is that I was getting a cold.  Some people get cranky because they are sick; I get cranky before I get sick but am too caught up in my emotional storm to take notice until I am get physical symptoms and then I think, "duh."
I had this costume idea from a year or so ago that I didn't complete but instead stuck in my closet.  In my search for reasonable ideas, I pulled it out and immediately began to think about the 23rd Psalm. You see, the costume is that of a sheep.
I have been meditating on this Psalm for a few days, and can I tell you how timely it is?!  How good to be reminded that I have all I need, that my Shepherd refreshes me with safe places to rest, that I am never alone, will never be abandoned, and therefore have nothing to fear.  He doesn't make me to run around, crazy in my head, unfocused, anxious.  That is MY nature, not his direction.  So I looked up some characteristics of sheep.  Oh, how I see myself....
  • Sheep very vulnerable to fear, frustration, pests, hunger.  I don't like being uncomfortable.  If it is hard or scary or far off, I would just as soon not undertake it at all.  I want it now.  I want it to be easy.  I want to see results.  Otherwise, my attention shifts.

  • Sheep are perverse, stubborn-will insist on their own way, even eating poisonous plants or drinking dirty water.  Oh, yes, I will admit, because if I didn't those of you who have my phone number would text me L-I-A-R....I am stubborn.  I will do it my way.  Totally a defect of my character.  I am often like a 3 year old.  I think God simultaneously laughs and runs after me

  • Sheep are jealous, competitive for dominance.  (Raising my hand.)  Yes, that foul was mine.  I swear that I was not always a type A personality.  Once upon a time, I was laid back.  Now, I fight, for recognition, for respect, for my right-ness.  Yeah, another defect of my character.

  • Sheep can be easily "cast"-helplessly flipped over on their back, unable to right themselves and they will die of starvation if not turned over by shepherd.  Too much wool can cause sheep to be easily "cast."  I would like to do many things.  I am good at many things.  I have interest in many things.  Unfortunately, like everyone else, I have 24 hours in any day and in those hours I must work, eat, sleep, love friends and family, and catch up on Facebook.  I am not good with balance.  I don't understand it.  Perhaps it is me trying to make up for lost time, lost opportunities.  Whatever the issue is, not only does my cup run over with grace, but my plate runs over with activity and my to do list flows to the next notebook.  At those times, a little thing like getting sick can push me over the edge.  When I keep my life trimmed, I am less likely to fall apart.

  • Sheep need the most care of all livestock.  I am so needy.  I feel, and am, powerless over so much.  I forget to pray so when life gets chaotic, there I am running around like a nut trying to hold it together.  I forget to take my vitamins and end up sick or with more pain than usual.  I need my husband and other friends to remind me that I am loved because my brain somehow disqualifies me from relationships.  I am so needy.  I refuse to embarrass myself further.  Let's just leave it at that.

  • Sheep are totally dependent of shepherd for every need.  Well, here is where I am going to veer because I know I try to do it myself, thanks to that stubborn streak.  Do you ever forget the big stuff?  Like, there are literally days when I think of God but don't talk to him.  Yeah, I do that with my husband sometimes, too, but then he stands in my way until I tell him to get out of my way, which reminds me that I haven't told him I loved him lately and suddenly we are talking.  I wish God kicked my butt a little more often like my husband.  (And as I type that sentence I internally gasp at where God could take it.  It is sort of like praying for patience.  If you have ever done that, you know what I am talking about.  If you haven't, well, take my word for it, don't.)

    It isn't that I don't need God or that I don't want to talk to him, I just forget because I am too wrapped up in trying to make my world work!

    I am fortunate to have a friend who was a shepherd, because it not only gives me a picture of who God is as my shepherd, but a clearer picture of myself as a sheep.  Not this picture:

    No, I wish my life looked like that.

    Apparently the prophet Isaiah didn't think the sheep's lives looked like that either:

    We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
    Isaiah 53:6
    But if I could calmly follow my shepherd, that would be so cool.  Instead I am skittish and wander and rebellious.  I am learning to trust my shepherd, tho, that he will take me to safe places of rest, that needs will be provided for, that I will not walk thru scary things alone, that gratitude is always the appropriate response, and that he will not leave me to my own skills.



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