Who Leads the Sheep to the Scary Places?

by Andy Wood on July 23, 2008

in Insight, Life Currency, Tense Truths

ShepherdTense Truth: Because every human has a great need for guidance and care, God promises to personally meet the need of every Christ follower, as a shepherd would his sheep.  Yet as our Shepherd, He will lead us directly to hostile or dangerous places, into the very presence of our enemies and death.  Nevertheless, my safety and peace are not found in where I lie down, but in Who stays awake when I’m resting.

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Give your heart to Jesus, and it will be the end of all your trouble.

The front end.

Just remember as you’re bumping along the road to eternal bliss, you have a Shepherd, and He has committed Himself to meet all your needs.  Of course, if He’s the Shepherd, what does that make you and me?

Sheep.  The stupidest, most defenseless animal in the world.

But we’re sheep with a Shepherd, and we can rest in that.  It never ceases to amaze me how those inspired words of David, so comforting for centuries, continue to work their magic today.  I witnessed it again last week, as a grieving family said good-bye to their mother/grandmother.

I love how practical the Lord is when He meets our needs.  When God finds you hungry, He gives you food.  When God finds you with a broken heart, He’s not going to come and ask you if you’ve read the Four Spiritual Laws. He’s going to attend to your broken heart.  Whether the need is for strength to keep going, direction for decision making, encouragement along the way, or something more tangible, our Shepherd delights in solutions to the real problems in your life.

He also gets personal with this shepherding thing.  If your idea of God being your shepherd is something along the lines of, “Yeah, well, He shepherds everybody,” you’re missing the point.  Everything in that psalm is singular.  Personal.  Intimate.  No crowd of other people.  No angels, preachers, or other substitutes.  Whether it’s His rod or His staff, His voice or His steps, this Shepherd  is engaged with your life.  He’s connected to your pain, your strain, your brain, and your gain.  You, sir!  Not just your kids or wife.  Not just the saints at the church house.  I’m talking about you, as if you were the only four-footed wooly critter on the planet.

Comforted yet?  Encouraged?  Blissed and blessed?

Here’s where the truth gets tense.  Chew on this:  If you are a follower of Christ, there is never a time when the Lord is not your shepherd.  Think with me…

How do you, the sheep, get to green pastures?  The Shepherd takes them there.

How does the sheep get to still waters?  Ditto.  The Shepherd.

How does the sheep get his soul restored?  The Shepherd does that.

How does the sheep know exactly where to go, and what path to take?  Shepherd again.

Stop.  Think.  How does the sheep find himself in the valley of the shadow of death?

Are you prepared to answer that?

Bonus question:  How does the sheep show up in the presence of his enemies?

You say “the devil,” I’ll make fun of your nose.

There’s a brand of Christianity that says, “If you make the Lord your Shepherd, then all you’ll ever have is green pastures and still waters.”  Sorry.   David the shepherd-plus-psalmist-turned-warrior-then-fugitive-then-king would beg to differ.

The same God who leads you through the time of blessing is one who sometimes leads you through the times of pain.  The issue is not where you are going.  The issue is who’s taking you there.  If you can trust Him in the time of blessing, you can also trust Him in the time of darkness.

This all came together for me when my friend, the late Butch Lowery, called me and told me this eyewitness account.  Butch coached a boys’ all-star basketball team in southeast Alabama.  He took them to Auburn to the state tournament, where they lost in the first round.  As a consolation prize, he carried his 18 boys some others to a skating rink.  Butch said it was the kind of place that you wouldn’t pass unless you were actually going there – somewhere in the woods outside of town.

The brother of one of the boys on his team, a young man about sixteen years old, had come along with the team.  This was the brother of a kid that Butch said shouldn’t have made the team at all.  Somehow, in spite of the fact that the boy didn’t apply himself very well, he squeaked by and got on the all-star team.

This kid’s brother had a history of hyperventilating when he got upset.  And sure enough, while he was skating he fell, and as he did, his back hit the wall.  Also in the process, another skater plowed into him, and he hyperventilated right there.  He just panicked and could hardly breathe.

It took them about fifteen minutes to get the young man calmed down.  They picked him up and rolled him out to the lobby, when all of a sudden this sixteen-year-old kid collapsed on them.  Butch’s wife Natalie was a lab technician, and knew C.P.R.  A registered nurse was also with them, who also knew C.P.R.  He quit breathing, his heart stopped beating, and those people did all the C.P.R. they knew how to do.

Finally, Natalie looked up and told those eighteen scared boys, “Pray!”

Instantly, eighteen little heads dropped in prayer.

As soon as their heads were bowed, some guy drove up in a little red Toyota truck, slinging gravel in the parking lot.  He walked straight in there, and the only thing he said was, “I know C.P.R.”

He walked right up to the young man and started calling him by name – “Stanley.”  He started talking to him in a calm and soothing voice.  No one had ever seen this guy before.  He started giving him C.P.R., and Stanley revived.

The stranger got him up, made sure he was all right, with 18 little kids watching all this going on, and all of a sudden, no one could find this helper who called Stanley by name.  The adults asked the 18 boys, “Where did he go?”  Their reply:  “I don’t know.  We haven’t seen him.”

Interpret this however you want, but I’ll tell you this:  when my Shepherd sees me in that kind of trouble, I hope there’s a little Toyota truck riding around!

In the presence of his enemies, in the valley of the shadow of death, with little hearts praying and big hearts doing everything they can, a Shepherd showed up in a profound way.  Let me be clear:  He could have prevented this altogether, but didn’t.  He could have kept the little brother off the team.  He didn’t.  He could have kept the team winning.  That would have been an even greater miracle, so I hear.  He could have kept Stanley from falling.  Didn’t happen.  He could have made Stanley in such a way that he didn’t have this physical or emotional challenge.  He didn’t.

He also could have let Stanley die, and still been a faithful Shepherd.

He didn’t.

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