I’ve been walking for 500 days. Along the way, I’ve accompanied people who were enduring cancer, infertility, head trauma, surgery, dementia, depression, a loved one’s suicide, loneliness, job loss, home repossession, financial crises, separation, divorce, addiction, death of a child and serious illness of a child.
None of us saw what lay in the path ahead. If we had, we would have run the other way!
It has been 500 days since I began my walk of Psalm journaling, and I’ve been reminded through these songs and experiences that the path of self-sufficiency does not exist.
In the five verses of Psalm 100, I find there are over a dozen references to God and what impact He has on our path. The verses speak of His presence, His authority, His gates, His courts, His mercy, His loving kindness, His faithfulness, His creation of us, and His ownership of us.
“Know that the Lord is God! It is He who made us and not we ourselves! We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”
As I read this, I can’t help but wonder. If we are His people, and He made us, and our paths belong to Him, then why does He allow bad things to happen? Is He really able to maintain the path of my life?
Verse 5 shows me God’s ability.
“For the Lord is good; His mercy and lovingkindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations.”
So where is the problem?
Looking at these verses closer, I see how the Psalmist has described people as sheep.
From what I know about sheep, they are quite dumb. They go their own way. Without steering, they constantly walk into danger. They cannot survive and be self-sufficient. They need the shepherd.
I think I see the problem. The tendency for sheep to think they don’t need a shepherd.
Maybe this is God’s constant theme, and with every path obstacle I encounter, He provides emphasis of it.
Consider this. During the difficult times, imagine God saying to us sheep people, “You can’t be self sufficient. You were not created to walk alone. You need me.”
Saying this would be consistent with the rest of the story in the Bible.
It fits with the beginning where Adam and Eve walked away from God and sin entered the world. (Unfortunately, sheep people have been choosing to sin and walk away from God ever since.)
Then, since God is God, and He couldn’t keep His distinct Holy-God- perfection and walk with sinners, (but He still loved us and wanted our walks with Him to continue), He sent Jesus to pay for the problem.
As a result, Jesus came as THE lamb, a perfect “sheep,” and walked a faultless path that led straight to a cross where He died in my place.
But like an enthralling story with a false ending, so was the tomb for Jesus. God, the one who walks with sheep, revived His perfect lamb. To this day sheep people have had the option to have their slate wiped clean, and their walks with their shepherd continue IF they accept and choose the sacrifice of the perfect sheep as their substitute payment.
Truly, the path to self-sufficiency is an illusion. All history points against it.
So today, when I go foolishly walking alone, my shepherd kindly lets the cross come bursting through the clouds that inevitably flood my skies. In the light of the cross, my true path illuminates, and I can see that it is wide enough for two but too narrow for one.
“Dear Shepherd, I joyfully acknowledge I am insufficient to do, or be, anything or any form, apart from you. Each flower and blade of grass I pass reminds me of how foolish it is to think I can control, when I cannot even make a single one of them. Keep the reminders coming of how insufficient I am alone but how amazingly sufficient I am with You. Thank you again so very much for sending and sacrificing Your perfect lamb so this soiled sheep person could be made clean and walk an eternity of 500 days! Amen.”
In celebration of 500 days, I have launched a second blog specifically to encourage those who are stressed. www.stressbless.com