Round and Round We Go

Control - we all have issues from time to time, don't we? If we want control, we struggle every time is out of our control - like when traffic comes to a screeching halt on the highway and we have places to be right then. If we don't actually want control and it is thrust upon us, we wanna turn tail and run - like when we get put in charge of a project way out of our comfort zone. We all have times when our days just seem to spin out of control. It is not an easy thing for many of us - we just don't like to have control in the hands of anyone else, or to be told we need to control things! Whenever control shifts, we feel "out of control" - anxiety creeps in, frustration mingles with our anxious thoughts, until we end up on the edge of wanting to just scream, "Give me back the reigns, fool!" or worse yet, "I give up, I'm done, I am out of here!"  Okay, if this has never described your day, don't read on! If it has...maybe you'd benefit just as much as me.

God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. (Psalm 23:1-3 MSG)

Most of us associate the 23rd Psalm with funerals - it is the one most common passages of scripture read at the graveside. Why on earth am I directing our attention to a psalm about "death" today? Well, read it again - the very first three words say it all! "GOD, my shepherd." It isn't about death - it is about who is really in control. GOD - you may remember as I have shared the meaning of these names of God in our Bibles written in all caps. LORD and GOD both stand for the name Israel knew God by - Jehovah. It is translated, "The unchanging one". In fact, whenever we see the name GOD or LORD in all caps in scripture, we can count on the passage speaking something of his being totally unchangeable in his promises, permanent in every way, and becoming all we have need of in the moment. It is his intense compassion as a loving and unchanging God which moves him into action within our lives - controlling what is out of our control.

So, as this psalm opens, it starts with what we all have need of in our lives when things seem to be spinning out of control - a shepherd! What does the shepherd do? He guides the sheep. Not only does he guide - he protects. When things are spinning out of control - we need not only wise guidance, but we certainly need protection from what others can do to us AND what we can do to ourselves. "I don't need a thing". Hmmm...let's see....we stand in need of so much...but when we recognize the Shepherd of our souls is in control...we can confidently say, "I don't need a thing". Pretty awesome, if you ask me! As if being in control is the aim, the next part of the passage settles this little misconception we might have. In fact, it is God who "beds us down". I don't know about you, but as a mother, whenever I managed to rein-in the kids, get them all washed up and ready for bed, those first moments of peaceful sleep I'd observe as I looked in on them before I turned away and called it a night just melted my heart. Those peaceful little ones, all innocent in their rest, just took away my breath. I imagine this is a little of what God feels whenever he finally gets us to rest in what he has provided for us!

He provides lush meadows - because we don't know our lack of comfort until we experience it as perfectly as he provides that comfort. He gives quiet pools to drink from - simply because we don't know how parched life leaves us until we drink deeply from his grace-pools. Spinning out of control takes its toll on our physical bodies, but also on our spiritual reserves. No one appreciates comfort until the pain gets too great to handle. We don't appreciate a cool drink until we experience thirst on a hot day. I guess we need to realize pain and thirst are really early warning signs of needing to look for the Shepherd! The purpose of the rest and the refreshing is in order to catch our breath so we can "live to fight another day". But...we fight from a new vantage point! As we let God take us into his rest, we learn from the master planner of our lives. The next step we take is in sync with his. It is in yielding control where we find the best "control" we could ever bring into our circumstances. Spinning? Maybe it is time for a little rest. Just sayin!

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