So often we want God to change our circumstance, before He is our refuge in the circumstance (Ps. 46:1).
Sheep are a flocking animal. They enjoy, by necessity of safety and comfort, company. They do not like to be isolated or alone; in instances when they are cut off from the flock they cry: baa!
Sheep, unless they are spooked, like to slowly roam around as the graze. Moving ever so slowly. Calling to each other from time to time. Lifting their heads to look for danger, or to see their companions. Then, as some lay down to ruminate, they settle, getting up from time to time to nibble again.
As followers of Messiah we have a tendency to be in a rush. We want to move, check out new grass, see what’s over the hill. We should not be in such a rush; rather, we need to learn patience.
In a flock there is always a lead ewe that other sheep will flock to, follow, and settle around. Then there is the shepherd, whose voice, posture, and presence the sheep know. His presence among them is not threatening, but comforting. When he calls, they will follow, or come to him.
As Yeshua/Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Have you ever considered what happens when the shepherd stops moving? When we linger in one place too long, at times we get antsy, “Why isn’t the shepherd leading me? Why have we stopped? I need some direction!”
The psalmist writes, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way” (Ps. 37:23).
מֵיְהוָה, מִצְעֲדֵי-גֶבֶר כּוֹנָנוּ וְדַרְכּוֹ יֶחְפָּץ
Translated another way, “The pace of a strong and faithful man are prepared by the Lord, and He delights in his way.”
I’ve translated “steps” relying on the meaning of its root, which speaks of the pace of movement.
We are used to moving, especially in faith, but standing still, grazing in one place we have yet to master. When the Lord calls us to move, we move. Even if you do not know the exact direction, you will move in the flow of the shepherd’s flock.
The Lord prepares our steps according to the strength of scriptural nourishment. We should not expect that He will prepare steps to take us where we not strong enough to walk.
Why does the Lord delight? Because in the steps that He has prepared, no matter how difficult the way might appear, we are triumphing in His grace, and not stumbling. That’s why He delights in our way.
Fed, we stand. Standing, we move. Moving, we follow Him, the Shepherd.
When you do not have direction from the Shepherd, what you should do is simple: don’t move, graze a while. Be still. Know that He is God. And that because He is leading you, He hasn’t left you.
Fill up where you are, and be strong for the way ahead, and when He gives the word, move.
Be well. Shalom.
Not everything in the life of Paul, an apostle of Messiah, was glory clouds and rainbows. We often focus on the end of his race, which was glorious in Yeshua/Jesus; but the years, months, and weeks before his graduation were filled with pain, suffering, and heartache.
Paul, writing in Corinth to Rome, reflecting not only on the glory of Messiah, but also on his own experience writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Ro. 8:18).
The sufferings, experienced not only by his audience in Rome, but by Paul himself: beatings, shipwreck, stoning, lashes, rejection, false accusations, gossip, etc., (II Cor. 11:23-28). These tragic circumstances pale in comparison to the glory yet to be revealed in the saints of God in Messiah.
Later in Romans 8, Paul encourages his audience that what they, he, and we are enduring is being worked together. This imagery is that of the potter before his wheel, taking the clumps, seemingly disconnected, being worked into something useful, as he writes:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Ro. 8:28).
Who is he describing? There are qualifications, those who: love God, and are called. The saints, ἅγιος/hagios.
What is a saint/ἅγιος/hagios? In Greek, one who is separated, committed, pliable to the will of God as called in His grace. In Hebrew, קָדוֹשׁ/kadosh – seaparated, dedicated, cleansed by separation from the common.
For those set-apart to God, He takes the “all things” noted by Paul, and works them with His hands together, according to His will, as He reforms His people into the image of His Son. Paul explains:
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Ro. 8:29).
Messiah, suffered and endured to a degree beyond our comprehension. In this, we recognize that we, as His followers, will share in His sufferings (I Pet. 4:13; Phil. 3:10; Matt. 16:24).
Yet, here is the good news. Even though our lives are not, neither should they be, all glory clouds and rainbows, the comfort for suffering is so much greater, Paul encourages:
“For as the sufferings of Messiah abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Messiah” (I Cor. 1:5).
Paul, following Yeshua, provided an example of faithfulness and endurance in suffering, despair, and pain. Know for certain, just as Paul knew, that what will be revealed in you, to the glory of the Father, is far greater than what you endure right now; and that every uncertainty, every fear and failure, heartache and betrayal is being worked in His hand.
Be well. Shalom.