Hi sweet friends! I’ve missed you!
Is February almost over?!?! Oh my…life is flying by. It’s been a while since I’ve put up a new post but I’m hoping I can be on here more regularly this year. Jesus has done so much for me. He is changing my heart, drawing me closer to Him, giving me new vision, wisdom and passion that I pray will continue to grow. I have so much to be thankful for! He is laying beautiful things on my heart week by week. I’m so excited at the year ahead and what He has in store for us all.
As I have chosen to surrender, as I have been willing to let go of my plans, dreams and desires, the more my loving Savior is filling those spaces with love, joy and clarity for new dreams and passions. I’m thankful for these past few months of quiet…of being offline, not on social media at all, rarely on email and spending more time with my kids. There have been no cake projects on my plate or filling my mind (although I did make a small quilt which I blog about later!) which has allowed me time to really look at life around me.
I was listening to a pod cast by Curt Harlow, a guest speaker at Bayside Church down in California. He was preaching on the Parable of the Lost Sheep. I’m sure many of you know that story. I’ve probably heard it a hundred times in all my church years. But Curt brought up a point I had never considered… and it really penetrated deep into my heart.
Here’s the story:
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.
Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and
neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the
same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over
ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:1-7)
It’s a beautiful story with so many wonderful truths! Our Shepherd comes looking for us when we are lost. He doesn’t care how dumb we are, how much of a mess we’ve gotten ourselves into, how dirty and small we are, or how far away we have roamed. He loves us! – He sees us as a valuable part of his flock and He longs to be with us. He brushes us off, puts us on his shoulders and with joy, He forgives us. He is love.
There have been many sermons done on this topic. But one of Curt’s many points was why the sheep got lost. He used to live on a ranch so he knows sheep. He told a funny story of how dumb they are because they are driven only by their stomachs. They will follow food anywhere…anywhere.
Today, our culture is FILLED with “greener pastures”…food for our souls. It promises things that satisfy. It promises things that will fill us up. It promises things that will numb the pain and hunger in our souls. Yet…we end up never satisfied, never filled and still feeling pain.
A sheep will get lost when he keeps his head down eating and eating and eating without stopping to look up to see where he is and most importantly, where his shepherd is. It’s not necessarily done on purpose. The little sheep didn’t purpose in his heart and say, I am done with this flock, I want to find my own way! He probably got lost because he had been so distracted by the “green grass on the other side” that he moved in that direction continuously with his head down sniffing, eating, chomping, chewing and eating, eating, eating without looking up. He didn’t stop every once in a while to consider his ways and get his bearings or to ask the good, kind, strong and loving shepherd if he’s where he’s supposed to be.
I really never considered myself the “lost sheep”. But after hearing Curt, I realized I am. I have been lost. Have you? Are you?
I have been a Christian my whole life and always thought this story refers to those who have been lost because they do not know the great love of the Shepherd and have not given their lives to Him. And yes…that’s one of the main meanings of the story…but it’s not the complete message. I have been lost. I am this sheep. I un-knowingly walk away from closeness with my Shepherd to go after the green grass of this world only to realize it doesn’t satisfy. And because I’m so distracted by all the “pretty grass”, I keep eating and eating and eating and eating and eating thinking I will eventually feel full, I will be satisfied, I will be happy.
But I don’t. I end up far from my Shepherd, empty, hungry, alone, dirty, hurt, frustrated and wondering how I got there in the first place.
I LOVE my Jesus! I love to be in His presence so much. There is truly not a better place to be in all the earth. But I have felt so far from Him at times.
Why?! – how could I wander away from him?!!
Distractions. The busyness of life. The pull and temptation of our culture to get more, do more, be better and more successful than the next guy.
Hobbies. Home school. Church activities. Sports. Friends. Social Media. My phone. Addictions. Ministries. Commitments. Projects. Sin.
Some of these things can be good! – they can be downright awesome!! BUT, all of these things can be the green grass that slowly and surely pulls me away from my Savior’s presence. I see people “eating” along side of me and think, “I’m okay! They are doing it too! They are with me!” But they are not my Savior. They don’t know me. They didn’t create me with a purpose in mind. They didn’t create me in love to live a life of glory with Him. He’s much bigger, much greater and much wiser than my friends…then our culture! – and He might be calling me down a different path.
These past few months I’ve been able to look up. I’ve stopped filling my plate with the green grass of this world and started gazing at my Shepherd and eating of His word. My soul has been more satisfied, more filled, more excited, more passionate and clearer than ever. I can see how far I have unknowingly traveled. BUT, I also see how close my Savior has remained. He’s been watching me. Waiting for me to look up and notice I’m lost. Just like a child in a department store who runs and plays and hides in the racks only to realize they can’t see their mom anymore. But all along, mom has been watching them from a distance allowing them that moment of fear to realize, “Whoops…I’ve traveled too far! Where’s my mom??”
Honestly, like that child, I am nothing without Him but scared, helpless and small.
Now…the amazing part!
HE became a lamb too. He’s not just the Good Shepherd. He is the lamb that was slain.
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. He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. (Isaiah 53:6-7)
We have all gone astray. Each of us thinks we know the best way.
But I LOVE that He is not surprised by that. He is not mad at us or disappointed in us for that. He has known since before the world was created, before the first bite of fruit in the garden of Eden, that we would be like sheep led almost entirely by our cravings. So, what did He do so we could find our way back to Him? He showed us love.
He became a sheep and our sacrifice.
He bled out and died so He could forgive us of our sinful, empty wanderings. So He could cleanse us, clothe us, adopt us, pick us up and carry us on His beaten back to show us a better way. He walked the road of suffering, loneliness and separation from the Father so we don’t have to. He knows our “own way” will lead to emptiness, death and destruction and He has a much much much better way!
He paid the price because He loves you!
He simply wants us to remain in Him so He can lead us beside quiet waters, so He can restore our soul, so that He can be with us when He calls us to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We never need to fear or be afraid. He is with us.
Please, today, stop.
Ask yourself where you are? Are you satisfied? Is there peace and joy in your soul or is their emptiness, fear and loneliness?
Find your Savior running towards you as the Prodigal’s Father ran towards His son and swept Him up in His arms with joy. He is waiting for you. He has such beautiful, wonderful plans for you that you cannot even begin to imagine! Plans to bring you a hope and a future. Plans to fill your heart and soul to over flow with peace, strength, joy, hope and love you cannot even begin to imagine. And it starts by seeing your Savior…your Shepherd reaching out his nail scared hands saying, “This way. I know a better way.” He is trust worthy.
Confess you’ve been distracted. Ask Him to hold your hand and lead you into a better life…a new life.
There are no rules. This isn’t about religion and duty. This is about living a life of freedom where all you have to do is look into the face of your Savior. To see Him, know Him and love Him with all your heart. Then simply do whatever you want. He will give you new desires and new passions and new wants that will truly satisfy.
But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the LORD:
I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Hebrews 8:10)
You are His people. You are His little lamb. It’s a new thing He wants to do in your life. He will write on your heart His plans for you the more you spend time in His word.
His word is His breath. His word is our life.
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying,
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said,
‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ (John 7:37-38)
Are you dried up? Empty? Open the word and let it wash over you. Streams of living water will begin to flow out of your life as you believe. Open His word and see the beauty of your Savior. Look up at His life and what He poured out for you. You can be saved from a life of constant searching, of constant struggle, of constant toil and take rest on the shoulders of your Shepherd, Jesus Christ. You have been forgiven and made new.
You only have to believe.
With all my love,
**For the next post on Five Reminders To Help Us Look Up, Click HERE**