So often people assume the pain and suffering in the world are the results of either an absent or uncaring Father (God). However, there are so many Bible verses that speak to God’s tender care over his children. Why the discrepancy between what we seem to see and what God states about himself?
Psalm 23 is one of the passages in the Bible that compares God’s tenderness and care of his people to a shepherd. It made me wonder, what this psalm (or poem) would look like if the sheep wanted to choose their own way rather than follow the shepherd? How would this psalm change and how could this help us possibly gain a different view of God?
This post takes a tongue-in-cheek look at what that might look like and then examines the promises God gives for those who follow the shepherd’s voice.
God my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
I don’t need a thing? What about all the stuff I want? God, why are you so legalistic?
You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.
But I wanna go where I wanna go. (I don’t understand why I feel so anxious.)
Even when the way goes through death valley, I am not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
God, where are you now? Why have you allowed this pain? This says you go through it with your sheep, so why don’t I sense you anywhere? Why do I feel so unprotected and vulnerable?
You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
I like what the world offers better. It tastes better, feels better, looks better. But why do I always end up wanting more? When it gets quiet and I have time to think, why do I feel so empty?
Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of my God for the rest of my life. (The Message Translation)
I have a lot of things chasing after me. Drugs, alcohol, sex, status, and possessions, but nothing ends up like what you say you offer me. What would it look like to have God’s beauty and love chase after me? Is it possible? Would he be willing to welcome me in his home?
WHAT IF YOU’VE MISJUDGED GOD’S HEART TOWARD YOU?
Isaiah 53:6 states, “All of us like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s path to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him [Jesus] the sins of us all.”
Could it be that:
- What you are now experiencing isn’t the result of God’s neglect but your own choices to go your own way?
- Could it be that your pain is compounded because others in your world have done the same, all focusing so much on their own way they hurt everyone around them?
- Have your judgments about God come through your longings to go your own way rather than on the reality of who God is?
WHAT IF YOU’VE MISJUDGED GOD’S PATH FOR YOUR LIFE?
Psalm 23 depicts God’s intentions for you. But God’s intentions can only be realized if you follow his personal shepherd. Making a personal choice to refuse results in natural consequences even God may not have chosen for you because makes no promises if you follow another shepherd or venture out on your own. God’s appointed shepherd is Jesus Christ:
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for hte money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.
The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.
John 10:11-19 (NLT)
Could your current pain be caused by misjudging God and going your own way? Could it also be your pain has been caused by others who have misjudged God and therefore misrepresented him to you? Not everyone who called themselves by Jesus’ name actually know him. You will know someone has met Jesus, the great shepherd, when they speak the totality of God’s Word in love and grace, and when they act like Jesus.
GOD’S LONGINGS FOR THE LOST AND HURTING
In Psalm 23, God likens himself to a loving shepherd. In the New Testament, Jesus calls himself the good shepherd. He had a lot to say about those who considered themselves shepherds of God’s “flock” but don’t act as God would toward his children, causing others to misjudge him.
One day Jesus told a story to a bunch of religious people who thought they spoke for God, but didn’t, because they had no heart for lost sheep. Many misjudged God because of it. Jesus came to set the record straight:
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people – even eating with them!
So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to sarch for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
Luke 15:1-7 (NLT)
Do you think maybe you’ve misjudged God? Do you feel like a lost sheep in need of being found? God’s good shepherd, Jesus, is right here. Right now, So simply tell Jesus that you are ready for a shepherd and you want to become part of his family. He’ll make certain your request is granted. He and his father love lost and hurting sheep.
Want to dialogue further, Comment below or contact me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org.