Girlfriends in God - July 8, 2008

July 8, 2008

The Lord is My Shepherd

Mary Southerland


Today’s Truth

Know that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep he tends. (Psalm 100:3 NCV)


Friend to Friend

Shepherding was one of the oldest callings in Israel, even before farming. Shepherds traveled from place to place, living in tents while driving their flocks from one pasture to another. The sheep and their shepherds lived together every minute of every day. In fact, they were so intimately bound together that individual sheep, even when mixed with other flocks, could recognize the voice of their own shepherd and would come immediately when called by name.


A shepherd owned and marked his sheep. In some cases, the sheep were even branded, although branding is no longer an accepted method of identification because of the damage it does to the wool. Today, the ears of sheep are pierced with identification tags but for thousands of years, shepherds around the world marked their sheep by notching their ears with a sharp knife. Each shepherd had his own distinctive notch that indicated identity and ownership.


When we have a personal relationship with the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, we are chosen by Him, set aside for His perfect plan, and “marked” by His love, His forgiveness and His grace.


For years, I desperately struggled to be a Christian with only head knowledge of who God was and wanted to be in my life. The result was a pitifully shallow existence with stress and frustration as my constant companions.


I grew up in a Christian home, attending church every time the doors were open. I sang all of the right songs, spoke all of the right words and did all of the right things in front of all the right people. I fervently prayed that my works would validate my faith and desperately hoped that by following the rules, I would please the Ruler. It was not until middle school that the authentic life and spiritual integrity of a dynamic youth pastor made me hunger and thirst for something more. I wanted to know God.


During a special Saturday evening church service, I sat in my usual spot, clutching the back of the pew in front of me while wrestling with God over the condition of my soul and my eternal security. After all, I was a very active church member, a soloist and pianist for our worship services, and even directed a children’s choir. How embarrassing to walk down that aisle, admitting to everyone that I had been living a lie. I argued that I knew all about God – and then the deeper truth of that argument hit me. Yes, I knew about Him but I did not know Him. And His perfect love settles for nothing less than an intimate and loving relationship with his children. That night we met as I surrendered all that I knew about myself to all that I knew about Him.


While the course of my life was changed forever, I quickly discovered that I still have to deal with life on a daily basis and still have to face stressful situations - but now I have a Shepherd. God's love goes before me and surrounds me as I live each day. Knowing we are loved fosters peace in our hearts, and when our hearts are filled with peace, there is little room for stress.


Sheep don’t strike me as stressed-out creatures. In fact, they seem almost oblivious to the dangers of being a sheep. Sheep don’t seem to worry about where their next meal is coming from or if they will have a place to sleep each night. When sheep are sick, they simply turn to their Shepherd, instinctively knowing that He will take care of them and comfort them until healing comes. The Lord is our Shepherd and we are His sheep. Nothing else matters.


Let’s Pray

Father, You are my Shepherd and I am Your broken lamb. Right now, I surrender myself to You, trusting You to provide every need in my life. I choose to walk in faith, totally depending on You to come through for me. Thank You for the way You love me, care for me, provide for me and protect me. I pray that I will learn to follow You obediently and with joy. When I am afraid, I will turn to You. When I am confused, I will trust You to show me the way. When I am lonely, I will celebrate Your presence in my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.


Now it’s Your Turn

Using the word Sheep, create an acrostic that illustrates the fact that you belong to God, that He is your Shepherd and you are His precious lamb. You were created, chosen and set apart by love…for love. Write the acrostic on a 3x5 index card and tape it to your bathroom mirror as a reminder that no matter what the day holds, your Shepherd has gone before you and made a way.


S safely

H held

E eternally in

E everlasting

P peace


More from the Girls

When was the last time you felt safe and secure, as if you were being gently held above the storms by God’s loving arms? We can know God’s peace when we know Him as our Shepherd. For practical ways to become more “sheep-like” and live a life of victory, read Mary’s book, Escaping the Stress Trap, a verse-by-verse study of Psalm 23. Blessings!


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Originally published Tuesday, 08 July 2008.