A Wayward Sheep with a Loving Shepherd

17 Nov

The valley is dark and lonely. The ache in my heart reminds me that I am far from the comfort of my Father’s fold. My mind goes back to a time when I was walking close by the Shepherd. Oh how sweet that time was! Just knowing He was near brought comfort. Knowing I was in His will, that I was DAILY seeking Him for refreshing, brought delight to my soul. I try to recall what led me here in the first place. What was it exactly that deterred me from following Him with the whole-heartedness I once did? It’s been so long, I can barely remember. The pain of my current condition brings me back to reality as the heaviness in my heart reminds me of just how far away I am. Far from the fold. Far from the sweet fellowship I once shared with my Father. Will I ever regain the ground I’ve lost?

Just as despair begins to set in, I feel the strong hands of the Shepherd gently grip my soul. He has found me! He cared enough to leave the ninety and nine to bring one wayward sheep back to safety! Though His hands are gentle, there is another side to the restoration process. I feel the hook of His staff as it raises me to my feet, turning me back in the right direction. Even the correction is comforting because it means my Savior is near once again. My Shepherd is loving enough to chastise me so that I just might learn my lesson. It is His desire to keep me from making this valley a reoccurring place of visitation.

Having a wayward heart doesn’t have to mean we’re out in the world participating in what people would consider worldly sin. It can and most often means that we are neglecting to stay close to the Shepherd. We are most likely appearing to be serving Him when inside we know we’ve missed the seeking. We look the part, but we lack inward closeness and intimacy with the Savior. Slacking in our prayer life and Bible study time are quick ways to end up in the valley mentioned above. It’s not a trial or test, but a valley where we no longer feel the sweetness of fellowship with Him. Thankfully, He won’t let us stay there. The unrest and ache in our hearts is a vivid reminder of our condition. It’s a calling to return to the communion we once shared.

I am thankful today for this small phrase in a most familiar Psalm:

“He restoreth my soul…” 23:3

The Hebrew word for restoreth means to turn back, to bring home again, to call to mind, refresh, carry again.

Wandering. Straying. Drifting. Slacking. Regardless of the term used to describe it, I’m sure we’ve all been there a time or two. I believe that’s why Jesus Himself used the illustration of sheep to paint a picture of His children. He knew that we would be prone to wander!

Loving. Forgiving. Redeeming. Restoring. Regardless of the term used to describe Him, thankfully, He has been there just as often as we have to turn us back in the right direction.

I praise my Loving Shepherd that He is indeed loving enough to restore the soul of His wayward sheep!

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