He spread His wings and caught me, He carried me on His pinions!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Every Mountain Has Its Valleys.

Being a parent is one of the most important responsibilities God gives to us as adults. Our children are a precious gift, from above, so when the parent-child relationship is broken, the pain penetrates deeply into our soul.

When a son or daughter chooses a path where the enemy has the potential to destroy them, we pull out all our reserves to save them from harm.

Until we realize our children are God’s children first, we will not find the answers.

For God has only their good in mind, even when it seems the wolves are about to ravage our precious little lambs. There is nothing more painful or bewildering as when our children go astray.

There have been many occasions where I was at a loss as to the direction God wanted me to take, regarding my precious lil’ lambs. That was when I went, face down, to the ground begging for God's mercy; to show me His way. During one particular “crisis” a friend gave me one of the most profound books I have ever read, as a parent.

It may seem strange to say that God answered my prayer through a little book called, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.” But, actually, by learning about God's biblical metaphors, I found it much easier to release my precious children into the Great Shepherd’s tender arms of mercy; for He knows them far better than I ever could.

For parents dealing with a prodigal son or daughter, I highly recommend reading, "The Shepherd in the 23rd Psalm," by Phillip Keller.

Below is a brief synopsis of the chapters I found to be VERY enlightening!

“The Lord is my Shepherd – I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

From early dawn until late at night the Shepherd of our souls is alert to the welfare of His flock. No wonder Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd…I am come that you may have life and that you may have it more abundantly!” He is our owner and He delights in His flock. For Him there is no greater honor than the deep satisfaction of seeing His sheep content, well fed, safe and flourishing under His tender care.

“He leads me beside quiet waters.” Psalm 23:2

When sheep are thirsty they become restless and set out in search of water to satisfy their thirst. If not led to good water that is clean and pure, they will often end up drinking from a polluted pot hole where they can pick up on internal parasites. Thirsty souls can only be fully satisfied by drawing on the Good Shepherd, the Word of God. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be satisfied.” The dew on the grass is clear and a pure source of water. The Good Shepherd is a diligent manager and makes sure His sheep graze on the dew drenched vegetation.

The irony of this life is that many of us will try to satisfy our thirst by pursuing almost every other sort of “substitute.” (Therefore, as parents, it imperative that we pray for our children regularly.)

“He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:3

A “cast” sheep is a very pathetic sight. He lies on his back, feet in the air, flailing away frantically struggling to stand up. If the shepherd does not arrive in time, the sheep will die. This is why the Good Shepherd is careful to count His sheep and keep a sharp eye out for “cast” (fallen sheep) because predators know that a “cast” sheep is easy prey.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”
Psalm 23:4

During this time the flock is entirely alone with the shepherd and under his most personal contact and care day and night. The background in this scene has wild mountains, rushing rivers and high rangelands. Note: never does The Shepherd take his flock where he has not already been before! This verse sets my soul at rest: “I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” He is with us, dearest one, in every situation, in every dark trial, in every dismal disappointment and every distressing dilemma.

Every mountain has its valleys.

Dear one, death is not an end but merely the door into a higher and more exalted life of intimate contact with Jesus! Death is but the dark valley opening out into an eternal delight with God! Death is not something to fear, but an experience through which we pass on to a more perfect life!

The Good Shepherd knows this all too well…”Lo, I am with you always.” He is in full control, trust Him! It seems strange to say but it has been in those deep valleys that I have found refreshment from God. After the loss of my darling Johnny, I sensed God’s serene presence and comfort. He repeatedly refreshes and restores my soul from the desperate circumstances that threaten to engulf us as parents.
It is in those dark valleys (dark nights of the soul) where the grass grows best, but the route to get there is treacherous.

The Great Shepherd knows this. He knows where we can find strength and sustenance, despite the disasters that seem to loom about us.
He says to us, “in this world you will have tribulation:
but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

The rod is an extension of the shepherd’s own right arm. This instrument was used to discipline and correct the wayward sheep; those who INSISTED on wandering away.

It is the rod that demonstrates the power vested in him, the Shepherd. If you recall, Moses’ rod was used to demonstrate miracles the Pharoah. The rod speaks of the spoken Word, the extended activity of God’s mind and His will in dealing with men. It implies authority of divinity! It carries with it the convicting power and irrefutable impact of “Thus says the LORD!” The Scriptures are His rod.
By this rod we are kept from confusion amid the chaos. Another interesting use of the rod in the Shepherd’s hand was to examine and count the sheep. This was referred to as passing “under the rod.” Ezekiel 20:37 The skilled Shepherd takes his rod to part the sheep’s wool to determine the cleanliness of its fleece.

Psalm 139:23,24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

As we submit to God and allow Him to search us he is able to get below the surface of our wool (Wool in Scripture speaks of the self-life, self-will, self-pride). The Great Shepherd of our souls has our best interest and the interest of our children in mind, when we give Him full permission to search us.

MORE ON - “Thy rod…comforts me.”Psalm 23:4

“The skilled shepherd used his rod to drive off predators like coyotes, wolves, cougars or stray dogs. The rod was used to protect the flock from snakes and other creature disturbances.” This metaphor gave new meaning to the phrase, “Thy rod…comforts me.”

The rod was also used to discipline the flock when they would stray!
See the book for more interesting metaphors found in the Bible, on The Great Shepherd's discipline through the rod.

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