Wednesday, September 07, 2011

He Restoreth My Soul

Recently I have been reading a very old book by Phillip Keller titled A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. It has been very interesting reading through this book with a copyright date of 1970. Although over 40 years old, it is filled with simple truth and, no matter how old the book is, the material within its pages is relevant.

Phillip Keller was a shepherd so he shares great insight into this old familiar and for many, favorite psalm. However, there was one chapter that particularly touched and challenged my heart. Let me share it with you. It was Chapter Five, "He Restoreth My Soul".

Surely we have all been in a place from time to time when our soul was in need of restoration. During times of frustration, temptation, that feeling of hopelessness we might just cry out to God as David did in Psalm 42, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God....." Mr. Keller explains what a "cast" sheep is.

"When a lamb is 'cast' it is lying on its back, its feet are in the air, it flays away frantically and struggles to stand up, but it cannot. The lamb might bleat for help, but generally it lies there lashing about in frightened frustration. If the shepherd does not come and right the lamb, he will soon die. Therefore a Good Shepherd keeps a close eye on His sheep. He counts them often to be sure they are all accounted for. But it is the shepherd who keeps a close watch, so do buzzards, vultures, dogs, coyotes and cougars. They too know a cast sheep is easy prey. Interestingly he relates that even the largest, fattest, strongest and sometimes healthiest sheep can become 'cast' and become a casualty."

Here is how it happens. "A heavy, fat, or long-fleeced sheep will lie down comfortably in some little hollow or depression in the ground. It may roll on its side slightly to stretch out or relax. Suddenly the center of gravity in the body shifts so that it turns on its back far enough that the feet no longer touch the ground. It may feel a sense of panic and start to paw frantically. Frequently this only makes things worse. It rolls over even further. Now it is quite impossible for it to regain its feet."

There are times in my life when I am feeling rather hopeless or frustrated. Instead of releasing my soul and my anxiety to my Good Shepherd and seeking His help, I might lay down and zone out or take matters in my own hands and try to "fix" whatever is wrong. I might even think I simply can't take this to my heavenly Father again. He must be so sick of my same old dilemma. But no, Jesus, our Good Shepherd knows us full well. He says cast your anxiety upon me, I care for you(1 Peter 5:7). The tenderness, the love, the patience of Jesus is throughout the scripture. Let us not be like the lamb that looks for the comfortable, familiar, soft ground. Let us not allow ourselves to get "fat" and cling on to the things of this world so that we cannot stand. Let us cling onto our Good Shepherd. Let Him pick us up, clean us up so that we are not so "heavy" any more. Let us move to those green pastures He directs us to. Let us receive His direction and discipline. It will produce a life of knowing how to cast our frustration and hopelessness upon the one who can restore our soul.

Let me encourage you......
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:?He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the?paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the?shadow of death; I will fear no evil: for thou?art with me; thy rod and thy staff they?comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the?presence of mine enemies: thou anointest?my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all?the days of my life; and I will dwell in the?house of the Lord for ever
Psalm 23

Patricia L. Wenzel
WOC Graduate

James 4:13-14a
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.

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