Did you know one of the most common prayer requests I receive circles around fear?
Fear over job security. Fear over finances. Fear over broken marriages—or perpetual singleness. Fear over diagnosis. Fear over kiddos. We live in an anxiety-laden culture—fear lurks in our schools, our shopping malls, our movie theaters, our concert venues. The impact on this level of anxiety and fear in our nation has yet to be calculated.
How do we find shalom in an age of anxiety?
One of the most inspiring books on shepherding is Philip Keller’s A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. He observes that when the psalmist pens this praise: “He makes me lie down…” (Psalm 23:2), it speaks to the power of the shepherd in the lives of the sheep.
To lie down is to rest, surrender, relax. To let worries and anxieties go. To stop running, striving, searching, seeking.
To trust that the one who hung the stars, holds you.
But here’s what’s fascinating! According to shepherd Philip Keller, there are four requirements that need to be met before sheep will lie down:
- Sheep won’t lie down unless they are free from fear.
- Sheep won’t lie down unless they are free from conflict.
- Sheep won’t lie down unless they are free from pests.
- Sheep won’t lie down unless they are free from hunger.
What keeps you up at night?
The bad test results. The looming to-do list. The past due notices. The nagging boss. The crippling loneliness. The frustrating neighbor. The broken marriage. The unmanageable pace of life. The what-if’s and could-have-been’s. The realization that life didn’t turn out like you thought it would.
The key to getting the sheep to lie down? The presence of the Shepherd.
As the shepherd enters the pasture, the sheep’s eyes are fixed on him. They forget their worries, anxieties, and fears. They are able to lie down and rest.
Now, the quality of a sheep’s life depends on the character of the shepherd. Skinny, sickly sheep reflect a bad shepherd. Well-fed, protected sheep reflect a Good Shepherd. A bad shepherd offers brown, arid desert and dirty streams. A Good Shepherd leads to the verdant, lush pastures surrounded by flowing water.
A bad shepherd ignores the needs of the sheep. A Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. This shepherd bandages wounds. Attends to needs. Keeps his eyes on them—day and night. Bears burdens. Protects the gate. Tracks down the one who strayed. Calls them by name.
He makes us lie down.
When we’re afraid.
When we’re wrestling with relational conflict.
When we’re swarmed with pests.
When we’re hungry for more.
He makes us lie down.
He leads us.
He refreshes us.
He guides us.
He comforts us.
He prepares a feast for us.
He anoints us.
He accompanies us with goodness and love.
You are the object of the Good Shepherd’s attention and affection. His eyes haven’t left you. This hasn’t taken him by surprise.
Rest, sweet friend. Lie down and trust that the world rests firmly in the palm of God.
Steel away, even if it’s only for a few minutes, today or this week, to simply allow the Good Shepherd to wrap His arms around you. To speak life into your weary soul. To drench you in God’s perfect shalom.
- Watch. Session 2: Reaching Out to the Marginalized (10:35) on the DVD.
- Write. Respond to the introduction and first session of homework in the workbook (pages 32-49).
- Read. Chapter 1.9 – 1.16 (pages 34-71) in the book.
- Interact in the Private Facebook Group. Share what ideas or phrases that catch your attention. What God is challenging or showing you through the material. How we can pray for you. And of course, you’re welcome to send in quirky questions, too, since I’ll be interacting with them throughout our time together.
- Join me on Facebook Live this week.