As We Wait … Discovering Profound Simplicity
Governmentally, we are, “We the people …” Scripturally, “… we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.” [Psalm 100:3 NIV] He has captivated our hearts. We love the Good Shepherd who wants us to know His Voice and respond to Him. A number of verses in the Bible tell a story about shepherds and sheep. God has reasons for referring to us as sheep and plenty of evidence for Himself to be called the Good Shepherd!
There are times, “All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” [Isaiah 53:6 NASB]
“… Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and will seek them out.” [Ezekiel 34:11 ESV]
Thank You, Jesus, that You lead Your, “… own people like a flock of sheep, guiding them safely through the wilderness. He kept them safe so they were not afraid;” and God destroyed the enemy of the sheep. [Psalm 78:52-53 NLT]
This morning as I was reading scriptures about shepherds and sheep, I marveled at how closely they tell the story of human nature … and about good and bad shepherds. It is the cycle of our lives expressed through ignorant sheep. How many times are we going to circle the same mountains … only to end up right back where we started?!!! That’s insanity … ignorance!!
My grandparents were ranchers. My grandfather was killed in a ranching accident when he was in his early 40’s, and for the next 45 years my Grandmother Bill ranched alone. She had cows, horses, sheep, goats, chickens, as well as deer hunting leases for avid hunters during deer season.
Gram Bill used to talk about the stubborn and ignorant sheep that would keep doing the same things over and over and she’d have to go to the rescue. They were helpless to free themselves from getting their wool caught in a thicket or entangled on a wire of the fence. Some were notorious for losing their footing in the rain, falling down, unable to get up. If one rolled over on his back, and Gram Bill didn’t flip him over, he would lie there and drown! Stupid! Helpless! Wow!
The grandkids were thrilled when sheep-shearing season came around because we had the ‘privilege’ of helping! During the capturing of a sheep from among the corralled flock, there was much bleating going on. But once seized and the clipping begun … the sheep was silent. Perhaps they felt good to be freed from the extra weight of their hot, woolen coat. But we felt sorry for the sheep afterward … wondering if they were a little embarrassed as they walked away ‘naked!’ However, maybe they just felt light and airy making their scampering in the pasture more delightful! (Like a toddler escaping a diaper change to run through the house naked and free!)
The grandkids’ part was to climb into the burlap bags affixed to tall frames (way taller than us). This was the process: the wool would land on our heads … we would push it down with our hands … stomp on it with our sneakered-feet so that the bag would be as heavy as possible, bringing more money per bag for Gram Bill. When the day was ending we’d be super itchy, and so we’d run for the swimming hole to get the itch off! It was always a wonderful experience and a great day!
I know all too well what it is to feel stuck and helpless. It’s happened more times than I can assemble in a singular mental picture. At those times it feels like I need to add something to my life for things to change for the better … when what I need is to be sheared. The things that entangle me have become ‘life’ to the point that I hardly notice them anymore. As the Shepherd cuts me from the daily-ness of life, I have to say I don’t go without some ‘bleating.’ The thought of being sheared can be a scary thing. But once the Shepherd clarifies what is happening, there is cause and pause to remain silent and listen. It is then that I realize that when the weight of what has entangled me is removed … the nakedness I feel before Him brings a greater sense of intimacy with Him … not embarrassment. He sees it all anyway, you know?
As sheep, the wise and merciful Good Shepherd knows when to cut us from the flock … drawing us close for a shearing. COVID-19 has provided the Gift-Of-Time for this work to be accomplished. Quite a few are saying, “simplify … simplify … simplify.” I’ve heard testimonies of the Shepherd doing just that. Simplification is not only an outside work. Our soul-thoughts and spiritual-heart need simplification. We need to be sheared by our Creator.
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God.
Everything is naked and exposed
before His eyes,
and He is the One
to Whom we are accountable.”
[Hebrews 4:13 NLT]
We can be walking around feeling healthy, happy, and well put together … while being entrapped in our culture and self-preservation. For those of us who really want to know what is not hidden from “His eyes and the One to Whom we are accountable,” we can ask our Shepherd to show us what He sees … what is not ever hidden from Him. Are we willing to be sheared? Soul-naked and laid bare before Him to Whom we are accountable? How do we begin? Remembering …
“For the Word of God is alive and powerful.
It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword,
cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow.
It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”
[Hebrews 4:12 NLT]
“For if we are faithful to the end,
trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed,
we will share in all that belongs to Christ.
Remember what it says:
‘Today when you hear His Voice,
don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.’”
[Hebrews 3:14-15 NLT]
“I Am the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me –
just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father –
and I lay down My Life for the sheep.”
“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him
and to our God, for He will freely pardon.
For My Thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My Ways,
declares the Lord.”
[Isaiah 55:6-8 NIV 1984]
Question: What has entangled your wool that needs a Holy Shearing?