Friday, August 31, 2012

He Gently Leads...

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms 
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
Isaiah 40:11, NIV

I went to a sweet baby shower a few weeks ago where that last portion of Isaiah 40:11 was displayed.  I have thought about the verse since, and today, after a particularly long week, I am especially thankful for that picture of Christ as Shepherd, gently leading those that have young.

This morning I woke up feeling tired and beat up.  You know how it tends to swing, and feel like everything is sunny and going well, or like everything stinks and there is a dark cloud over life?  (Or is that just me?)  Maaan, this week was one of those weeks where the gloomy cloud starting rolling in.  I felt drained.  I felt like I take one step forward and two steps back.  I felt like I try to do everything and end up doing nothing.  This morning I just felt overwhelmed by failure.  And face to face with my sin.

My first instinct is to retreat and feel sorry for myself.  Followed quickly by an urge to blame and criticize, and just quit everything.  Then I'm tempted to wipe my tears and take matters into my own hands, trying to chase away the storm cloud with a well organized to-do list or beckon the sunshine with some new goals or gathered up gusto.

But today, in His grace, I hear my Shepherd gently remind me that He is all I need.  "Danielle, Danielle... you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed--or indeed only one... Choose what is better and it will not be taken from you..." (Luke 10... sort of.)  What I was really in need of this morning, all I am ever really in need of, is time sitting at the feet of Jesus.

The book of Isaiah offers up a complex canvas portraying sin and Savior.  When I read 40:11, I see beautiful brushstrokes depicting Christ as compassionate Savior, painted upon the backdrop of the rebellion and judgement of God's people.  Isn't the nation of Judah just like us?  I know their lack of change characterizes me.  I try to do it on my own, my way, time and again.  I've woken up to these gloomy days before.  I will probably even do it again.  But I pray for grace to hear His voice and choose to sit at His feet instead of continuing in the busyness and frustrations of life around me.  I pray I will hear His call to repentance and hope, instead of turning back to my sinful self.  I pray I will lean into His gentle leading.

He gently leads those that have young... I don't know if Isaiah 40:11 really speaks of young moms, or if it means young believers, or both.  Maybe it speaks of Jesus as Shepherd tending carefully to and aiding anyone who carries a precious burden, whether that of young children or something else.  Those in need.  Some other translations of verse 11 say He gently leads "the mother lambs," "those with little ones," and "the nursing ewes."  I love the message paraphrase too, where the shepherd is "leading the nursing ewes to good pasture."  I needed some good pasture today.  He is faithful to restore.  Maybe you are weary today too.  Maybe you are heading back into rebellion or choosing to do things your way again, or just in need of some nourishment after giving of yourself sacrificially.  Maybe you're just tired.  Jesus gently leads and guides and refreshes as we follow Him.

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.
(Psalm 23)

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