Last week when we began our new series, I said we were going to S.L.O.W. down and consider five steps you can take to move from ordinary to extraordinary, from unsatisfied to satisfied, from lacking to abundant. I also had you read Psalm 23. This week I want to focus in on the first verse from that familiar passage.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Jesus is our Shepherd. He came to “shepherd” us through life. But what does that mean? Well, it means that, just like a real shepherd’s job is to tend, guide and guard his sheep, Jesus’ job is to tend, guard and guide us.
Imagine, if you can, the life of a shepherd. Vast fields and beautiful pastures, lots and lots of sheep (that aren’t very smart, by the way — oh, did I mention sheep are not highly intelligent creatures? They wander off, do really dangerous and dumb things, have terrible memories and need guidance and direction 24/7! No wonder Jesus compared us to sheep so often!!) … and lots of time to think and contemplate. The life of a shepherd was not generally a hurried one. It was laid back, serene (most of the time) with plenty of time for interaction between the shepherd and his sheep.
The shepherd was all the sheep could ask for – a loving, caring keeper. The shepherd made sure the sheep had everything it ever needed – food, water, shelter and lots of TLC. The shepherd was “all the sheep needed.”
Did you notice the second part of Psalm 23:1? “I shall not want.” The shepherd took such good care of his sheep, they wanted for nothing. They had everything they needed in him. And we have everything we need in our Good Shepherd, Jesus.
But are we content with that? I’m not sure we are. I know that often instead of being content with Jesus, I run after other things. The first lesson from the shepherd on abundant living is to learn to be content to SLOW down and just sit and be with Him.
When my little 2-year-old boy JD was learning to talk, he had the funniest way of getting my attention. He is my second-born and sometimes has to vie for my attention (at that time his siblings were 5 years old and 6 months old). When he needed my attention he would repeatedly say, “Sit a me, sit a me…” over and over. What he meant by that, of course, was “Come sit with me. Give me some attention. I want you. I have something to say to you, if you will only stop what you are doing and be still beside me. Give me some of your time, love and attention!”
I love it when God speaks to me through my children! Isn’t that exactly what the Lord says to us everyday? “Come sit with me.” “I want your undivided attention.” “I just want you to be with me.” “Will you sit with me?” “Give me some of your time, love and attention.” He says, “And if and when you do, your life will go from ordinary to extraordinary. You will go from being unsatisfied to completely satisfied, because I am all you need!”
Now read Matthew 11:28-30 below.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gently and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
I love the first three words of verse 28 – Come to me. What an invitation!
In this passage, Jesus was giving Jews the invitation to be released from the burden and yoke of sin so that they could be free to experience His grace and mercy rather than the bondage of the law that had entangled them. He gives that same invitation to you and me today. He invites us to have a personal relationship with Him.
He wants us to take it further than just a one-time submission to His authority, however. He wants us to live it. He wants us to learn from Him every minute of every day. He doesn’t just want us to come to Him; He wants us to come and stay. He desires for us to stop what we are doing, sit down with Him and find rest.
I believe that Jesus really doesn’t want us to do anything without Him. That’s right, nothing!!
Personal Thought Questions:
How often do you come to Jesus?
When do you come to Him?
For what do you come to Him?
The perfect answers would be – all the time and for everything! Instead, I believe that our tendency is to come to Him via our quiet time, gain refreshment and nourishment from His Word, and then go about our day. I’m not sure that we always take Him with us. We think we can handle most of what comes in and out of our lives on our own and when the going gets tough, then we decide to come back to Him. What Jesus really wants, though, is for us to come to Him, sit with Him and stay with Him continuously.
Now, “how?”, you might ask. “I have a life, a to-do list, responsibilities. How could I possibly sit with Jesus all the time?” Well, here’s your answer. It’s a little simplistic, but there is a big nugget of truth in these next few words…Take Him With You. In whatever you are doing, take Him along. That’s right. We have things to do. We are very busy women, but our Shepherd needs to be with us.
We need Him on every errand, every work decision, every outing, every personal decision, everything – so that He can shepherd us through it. Please don’t misunderstand me. I know that as Christians the Holy Spirit resides in us and is always with us. I’m referring to a mental attitude, a conscious awareness and attitude that Jesus is present at all times. Simply imagine that He is there. Talk to Him; ask Him to help you. Practice His presence. It is a mental habit that you can train yourself to do.
Once you begin getting into the habit of taking Him along in your daily tasks, you’ll begin to feel more relaxed and at ease. No, your circumstances may not have changed, but your attitude and mental thought process has. Rather than you being in charge – He is! Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be anyway?
Stop right now and pray. Ask God to be evident to you in your daily life. Ask Him to help you get into the habit of practicing His presence so you can experience the abundant life He has planned for you!
Jacqueline C. Heider
Director of Discipleship & Women’s Ministry