Monday, August 31, 2009

A Sheepish Reminder

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice,”- Psalm 95:6-7 NIV

I’ve seen this verse a few times today and until just now, I’ve simply skimmed over it. I didn’t really think it applied to me, today. I thought to myself “Yeah, yeah, I get it…He’s our Shepherd and we are his flock.” It’s a message that kids start hearing in Sunday school very early in life. You can picture it now…the painting of Jesus carrying the sheep. It’s drilled into us – the metaphor of Christ and the Church being like a Shepherd and the flock of sheep. I know it well. A shepherd will not leave any one of his flock alone or lost. He will seek them out and bring them home safely. He ensures that all are fed and cared for equally and with love. Being a shepherd is his whole life – those sheep are his life! Without the sheep, he wouldn’t be a shepherd and that’s a big deal to him and to his family.

So, why is this verse suddenly a big deal to me? As I read it again, my eyes are drawn to the words “we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care” over and over again.
My husband and I have definitely had our share of times in the valley, and several of those times somehow started in our wallets. In 2002, we filed bankruptcy because we had simply overextended ourselves and we didn’t see any other way out. We were young and had made lots of really poor decisions in the two years we’d been married. At the advice of our attorney, we included our home and our car in that bankruptcy and lost both. We worked hard to rebuild our credit and we were able to buy a house again in 2004, but we quickly got selfish and greedy and wanted a “newer” house (you know – like the Jones’), so we sold and bought another home 1 year later…with a deceiving adjustable rate mortgage. It was a house we couldn’t afford, but we fooled ourselves into thinking we could “make it work” and “refinance” in the two years the mortgage guy had suggested. Boy, were we stupid! We pretty quickly started struggling to make ends meet on one income alone and got behind. In order to avoid a foreclosure, we sucked it up, put on our big kid pants, and accepted the consequences of our decisions, and knew we had to try and sell it. Thankfully, a short sale was finalized before the bank foreclosed and we’ve been renting since late 2007.

In the time since, we’ve paid stuff off and gotten out of collections, but every week is still tight. We often wonder if we will ever be able to own a home again and we wonder how long it will be before we can breathe, financially. So many days, it feels like we’re drowning in our own financial pool of quick-sand! We go to the store and wonder if this check will hit the bank before the paycheck does. We scrape every last drop of gas out of our cars before we fill up and pray that we don’t get stranded. We check the account every day to see if we’re still in the black or not. We’ve had our utilities shut off and somehow always manage to make it through (perhaps with a few extra “fees” in place”).

Our marriage has struggled, too, and there were times when we actually had thoughts of what life would be like if we weren’t married anymore. Would it be easier? Would it be cheaper? Would the kids be happier? Were we just too young when we married (we were 20)? Could we make it work and still be friends, for the kids? What would it do to our family? How would our friends react? All the questions…none of the answers were right. It would cost way too much to split up, the kids would suffer too much, and we would not be happy apart. It would all be way harder if we were dealing with it alone.

So, today, I’m reading this verse. Psalm 95: 6-7 and it occurs to me…we are under His care! Right now. At this very minute. Even as I am worried, again, about our finances and I’m stressed about all we have to take care of. Kids’ sports are expensive. Fundraisers are coming out of my ears. The cost for the church activities is increasing each year. We still haven’t had a birthday party for our son, who turned 9 in July. Christmas is coming soon. Rent is due next week. The kids are growing out of their jeans and the weather will cool off soon. It goes on and on. But, WE ARE UNDER HIS CARE!

He IS our Shepherd! That means HE WILL NOT LET US GET LOST! He will continue to take care of us and He will continue to provide for us! We, his sheep, can totally count on Him to lead us exactly where we NEED to be in order to have all the things we NEED. He will NOT let us die or be hurt, but He will let us learn…perhaps, that is what He’s doing now.

I spend so much time worrying about how God will provide and where this dollar or that dollar will come from, that I am forgetting to pay attention to the first part of this verse: “Come, let us bow down in worship, and let us kneel before the LORD our Maker”. I need to have a worshipful heart! I need to praise God for his provisions and his leadership. I need to be grateful that He has always given us a home to sleep in and food on our table. We have what we NEED. Our Father, Our Shepherd is completely and totally taking care of us – each and every day!

Thank you, God, for always keeping my family safe from harm. Thank you for always making sure we have food and shelter and clothes. Thank you for reminding me that we are loved by you and that our family is valuable. Thank you for my husband who works so hard for our family – even when he feels like he’s on a treadmill. Thank you for not letting us give up on our family. Thank you, Father, for my kids. Thank you, Lord, for my friends, who are always there to remind me just how good and faithful You are to me and how much You love me. Thank you God! Thank you God! I will worship you all the days of my life! I will trust and have complete faith in you and Thank you God for showing me this verse so many times today so I can remember to worship you because you will take care of me!!!!!!

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