Monday, October 16, 2006

Fretting sheep; faithful Shepherd

I often worry that I’ve lost my way on my spiritual journey. Much of my time is spent doing things that don’t seem particularly meaningful. Maybe I took a wrong turn somewhere, and God intended me to be somewhere else doing something else. This is a discouraging line of thought, as discouraging as being lost in an unfamiliar city.

But this morning I was reminded that I am not responsible for guiding myself to the right path. That’s God’s job. He is the Shepherd; I am the sheep. The sheep doesn’t choose the means or the ends of his life. No one expects him to do so. The ability and responsibility to do so are the Shepherd’s. And this must be the case with God and us. The most important aspects of the course of our lives are determined by Him, not us. Our responsibility is to obey His guidance, but even in the event that a sheep fails to do this, the Good Shepherd tells us that He would leave the flock and come and find the lost individual.

This thought made me see that I don’t need to stew and worry about whether I’ve taken the right course with my life. The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not be in want. Even if I were lost, He promises to find me and bring me back to the flock. I don’t need to worry about yesterday or tomorrow. All I need to do today is to follow His voice when I hear it.


Ρωμανος ~ Romanós said...

Yes, Kenny, you've got it 100% right! Everything you said is wise and right on. I hate to harp on this movie, but there's a scene in the Danish film Babette's Feast, where this concept, the ideas you wrote about not fretting are put very beautifully…

The General’s speech (quoting the pastor): Mercy and truth have met together. Righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another. Man, in his weakness and shortsightedness, believes he must make choices in this life. He trembles at the risks he takes. We do know fear. But no. Our choice is of no importance. There comes a time when your eyes are opened. And we come to realize that mercy is infinite. We need only await it with confidence, and receive it with gratitude. Mercy imposes no conditions. And, lo! Everything we have chosen has been granted to us, and everything we have rejected [given up] has also been granted. Yes, we even get back what we rejected [gave up]. For mercy and truth are met together; and righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another.

In this speech General Loewenhielm is speaking to fellow Christians, folks who have already made that choice "which alone matters." Now, the choices he's talking about are the sorts of choices you're writing about. I have found in my life, that the Lord makes the best of our choices, even the bad ones, in leading us home. So there is no reason to worry. There's no loss with Jesus.

Kenny said...

Romanos - thank you for this wonderful line, "There's no loss with Jesus."

Can He really be so wonderful?

I've been considering a new test of whether a proposition is gospel truth. The test is this, 'does the idea fill me with joy?' I think this is a good test, because good news should make you happy; so if something gives me joy, it might be gospel truth. This notion that 'with Jesus there is no loss,' definitely passes this test. If this is true, how happy are we.

Ρωμανος ~ Romanós said...

Awesome thought! 'Does the idea fill me with joy?'

(I penned the phrase "There's no loss with Jesus," awhile back in one of my comments on somebody's blog, but it's one of those one liners that "caught." I use it alot when I am writing or witnessing, not usually intentionally. It just comes out.)

But I like your idea very much, about evaluating ideas by the criterion of joy. Anything to do with the proclamation of the Good News should fill us with joy—that's a fact, and you can depend on it. That brings up another point…

Can it be, then, that ALL Christian truth (doctrine, dogmatics, etc.) is actually NOT part of the proclamation of the Good News? I don't mean that it's not true, but only that it's not part of the saving message of the Gospel. As an Orthodox, you would think we would have a problem with that idea, but I'm not so sure. Of all varieties of Christianity, the Orthodox put the greatest emphasis on this single idea: "What is the Good News? Jesus Christ risen from the dead!"

Why not let's try communicating only what gives us joy in the Lord? Can it be, that "all these other things will be added as well"?

Yes. I like your idea very much.

jose said...

This is a fabulous exchange. Can He really be so wonderful? Yes! Again, yes!

Anonymous said...

I am reminded that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I tend to get myself all worked up about nothing. The fact of the matter is this: My life can take all sorts of twists and turns as I look at it. But the driver of oxen knows that they are going exactly where He wants them to go. Though his yoke is easy, it is still a yoke. I am led where I need to go and though it doesn't always make sense it is what is best. I have recently, however, with all that has happened longed for still waters.

Kenny said...

I must admit, this series of thoughts which was comforting to me was meant to address the relatively mundane struggles of my life - everyday I think 'why did I become a lawyer? It sucks being a lawyer.' So considering God's goodness and guidance are helpful.

But, this thought isn't the one I'd offer in response to some of the real hardships that descend on people; and I know among even the readers of this blog there have been real hardships. It's not that there's no application of Psalm 23 to those situations, but rather that there is a time to rejoice and a time to weep.

I read a Proverb this morning that seems to be in a similar vein to this discussion, but with a different tone:

A man's steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?

Proverbs 20:24

Ρωμανος ~ Romanós said...

"…my spirit fails me,
but You, You know my path."
(Psalm 142:3, Jerusalem Bible)

Strangely enough, this psalm verse is appointed to be read on the "feast" day of the Holy Innocents (the babies killed by Herod) in the Anglican/Episcopal Church.

Once again, "…all we can do is nothing worth, unless God blesses the deed, vainly we wait for the harvest time, unless God blesses the seed…" (verse from the Anglican hymn, "God is working His purpose out").

And what did C. S. Lewis say in the book PERELANDRA? "To walk out of [God's] will is to walk into nowhere."

Yes. "I am not responsible for guiding myself to the right path. That’s God’s job. He is the Shepherd; I am the sheep."