As I rolled out of the church driveway last Wednesday something strange registered in my peripheral vision; what’s that in the ditch? I thought, holy smokes that’s a man! He was lying face down in the channel along the highway. I pulled over, hit the emergency flashers, threw the car in park and ran to him, punching 911 on my cellphone as I did so. I was too late. Other passersby stopped to help and the police and EMT’s showed up in record time, and the ER team at the hospital did their best, but the man was gone.
Just two days before that I had visited with a friend who attended our Alpha Course last year. One day he was cruising along, enjoying life and the next they were telling him he had stage four cancers all over his body with less than a year to live.
Some weeks are pretty bleak. The reality of the fall and the effects of the curse (See Genesis 3) are with us still and make their presence known in sometimes shocking ways. Those are the moments we most feel the need for someone to guide us, someone to sustain us, when the vicissitudes of life sap our strength. The Apostle Peter reminds us of who that someone is: “For you were like sheep going astray,” he said, “but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
How does our Shepherd Jesus sustain us? Last week we saw that, if we will listen, he leads us. He walks the path of life before us. If we find the way hard we know he has been there first.
He not only leads us, he also feeds us. Jesus wants our souls to be nurtured with good things.
“If your son asks you for bread,” he said, “you will not give him a stone will you? If he asks you for a fish, you will not give him a serpent. How much more will your Father give good things to those who ask Him?” Matt. 7:9-11
How does God feed us?
First, God feeds us with His word. When we read it and meditate on it through the day; when his servants teach us on the radio or in church; when we sing it or hear it sung we are feeding on God’s word. The Apostle Paul reminded us to keep “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;” (Eph. 5:19 NAS). That’s feeding on God’s word.
Have you ever seen someone drinking a lot of bitterness? “Un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” They are poisoning their souls.
Have you ever seen someone feasting on the humility of forgiveness? “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the flower leaves on the heel of the one who crushed it.” You are witnessing someone who feeds on the best kind of soul food.
Second, God feeds us with His goodness. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17. God feeds us with the goodness of the sun; the goodness of the rain; the goodness of the love of family; the goodness of the stars, beauty in the night sky; the goodness of the grass between our toes; the goodness of our friends; the goodness of a boat on the water and a fish on the hook; the goodness of laughter, of peace, of joy, and of music. Every good and perfect gift that we experience in this life is a gift from God.
With all these good things our Father feeds us. He leads us beside cool, still waters and with them restores our souls.
The question is: Are we drinking? Are we feasting on the good things he has given us? Don’t let the poisonous stuff; the stressful stuff, the disappointing and disillusioning stuff that comes to every life make you miss the goodness of God. Keep following the Shepherd and he will feed you.