Strength for the Sheep

I don’t think you ever expect the gravity of the trials that come, not fully anyway. I try to bridge the gap between strength and trust…try to reach out for His strength but also surrender my mistrust of His plan, all while treading water in the open sea. Perhaps the scariest thing is trusting Him during the storm, because I’ve learned that I can pray desperate prayers for the worst to stay away, only to shake hands with the worst later on.   How do I trust a God who lets the worst happen, and stays quiet during most of it? I have no control, it has shown me just that. How do you balance your fear and faith when you know very well you’re swimming amongst the waves?

I should’ve been praying for strength. For the presence of Him and not just the absence of trouble.

I’m a mere, small detail in His great, big plan, so I have no control or say…and yet because I’m a part of His plan, I can trust that I don’t have to have control, and it’s better that I don’t. All the waiting within the grueling years must mean that the healing is all the more glorious. These pieces of hell on earth also reveal the grandiosity of heaven.

When life yanks away the normal in your days, relationships, your identity…you realize how little you really are…and how great He really is. I would’ve been long gone by now had it been up to my strength.

Everything that I am is because of everything that He is. 

I listened the other day as Susie Larson explained the shepherd’s response to wandering sheep. We usually see wandering as purposely chasing things that aren’t good for us. Many times we don’t even realize that we are inching our way farther from Him. The shepherd finds the wandering sheep and breaks his legs so it can’t wander anymore, then places the sheep on top of his shoulders, carrying him the rest of the way until he is healed. The legs have to be broken to prevent the sheep from greater danger that comes with being being parted from the shepherd. During this time, the sheep remains so close to the shepherd, that eventually his heartbeat matches the shepherd’s. The sheep becomes in tune with his helper.

God allows our identity to be snatched up by arduous trials so that it can be recreated much stronger in Him. He wants to be so close to us that our heartbeats match His. He is working the worst to bring about the good. His motives are only ever to display His glory through us, all the while becoming more intimate with us.

Lysa TerKeurst shares how the shepherds of old were much different than those we know of now. They were sacrificial, sleeping near the sheep at night, protecting them; the shepherd laid his life down for his sheep. He was so intimate with them that he called them each by name, and the sheep knew him by his voice and followed him.

He is leading us with the sacrificial love we’ve all wished for all our lives, so we can trust that He really is our Good Shepherd. He sees the whole landscape, while we merely see the patch of grass we’re standing on. He’s leading us to higher pastures, if only we trust Him enough in the process.

And the waiting during the trial…like I said, the longer it is, the bigger the blessing. And it’s ironic really, how our trust wanes as time goes on, right when we really need it to grow. The two go hand in hand, so maybe that’s just what waiting is: walking avidly in trust. Our waiting period can be a time to passionately seek Christ until our hearts are synced with His. And hearts like His can brace for even the fiercest of waves…with all courage and endurance needed.

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