Surprises! Life is full of them, some that we embrace and enjoy and others leave us shaken to the core. My family has lived in the Hill Country for six months now. It’s hard to believe that half a year has gone by since we felt the Lord lead us here. Never in a million years would I have ever guessed that I would live in a small town named Boerne, TX (pronounced BURN-EE). Moving is hard! Picking up and leaving what we knew and were comfortable with and going to an unknown place, meeting all new people can be a daunting task. Each year our family chooses a word and a verse to help us remain true and focused throughout the year. Last year, our word was FEARLESS! 2013 had been a tough year for us. We had let go of a business that we had owned for seven years. He was showing us in a very real way that He could be trusted with everything. Ryan and I had both started new jobs, with new people and surroundings. It was scary but with God’s help we overcame our fears. We learned that Ryan’s dad was sick, real sick. Fears were real again. He passed away right after the beginning of 2014…right after we had chosen FEARLESS and 2 Timothy 1:7,“For God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” I began to think it was not possible to hang on to the word FEARLESS. It was too hard, too challenging. I wasn’t sure I was up for being brave and for believing those words to be true, that I have power, love and a sound mind. It was Jan. 23rd and I was ready to give up. Somehow I managed to keep waking up for my quiet time. It was in these moments that I found my strength. He would whisper His truths and promises to me and I would hang on for another day. One day after church, Ryan and I were visiting about the message. We both at the same time expressed how we felt we should move closer to our family. We had both been feeling it but neither of us wanted to speak it. It was too hard and scary and what if the other didn’t want it. The Lord was whispering it to both of us. We cried that afternoon as we realized that we both had the same feelings. We started acting on those feelings and Ryan started to look for a job first. Doors were opening! He had a job. It was my turn! I went on-line to look to see if there were any job openings for clerical positions in the school district. There was 1! I applied, the next day they called me for an interview and the following day I was driving to Boerne. Talk about having to be fearless…I was going somewhere I had never gone before. They called me the next week and offered me the job. Our family was moving! Our girls have been so amazing in this transition. They have flourished in every way. They were living this “Fearless” with us. They saw our tears and heartache in 2013 and in the loss of their granddad. They were embracing His truth with us. AMAZING!
Our Senior Pastor back in Mansfield, Mike Ramsdell, wrote us an email when we departed. He said something that really struck me. I asked his permission in sharing this with you. He said, “And I believe God works in new ways in transitions, so expect some surprises!” We have had many but this one has helped me grow the most…Ashley, our baby, is showing lambs. Yep, the ones that go baaah.
Our very first practice I found myself looking around and thinking now this is different! I figured out quickly that dressing nice was not required. J Sheep are very dirty and stinky animals. They are often afraid and look for every opportunity to escape. They are wayward and often times unruly. I was really intrigued by watching them. I began to observe even more in detail each time I visited the barn. There was always a new story about one of the sheep. One had tried to get out of the fence by way of running right through it. As you can imagine that didn’t work too well for it. He gashed up his neck and ended up needing stitches. Ouch! My intrigue for them was due to the fact that numerous times in the bible we are referenced as His sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” John 10:14;
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27;
“Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3
Each week Ashley would be able to go to her sheep and begin to help guide it to go in the direction she chose for it to go. There would be times that a sheep would begin to panic and wrestle away from her and come loose from her hands and away it would run. We really are just like the sheep. We are often afraid. Why do we begin to panic when the storms of life come? Why do we think that we can figure things out on our own and go our own way? Did you know the bible tells us 365 times in different versions to not be afraid! There’s a reason we have a verse for everyday of the year to remind us that we do not need to fear. He knows that we are lost without Him. Our God is with us and for us! “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31. I don’t know about you but that is comfort to my ears. I need to hear and know that I have a God that loves me and is for me. He is a good Shepherd!
One of my favorite passages in scripture tells us about The Lord being our Shepherd.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23
Oh how I could read these words over and over again. They never grow dull. I love my bible. I have the NIV study bible. It offers short notations for verses to help break it down and make it easier to understand. Listen to what it says,
“When we allow God our shepherd to guide us, we have contentment. When we choose to sin, however, we go our own way and cannot blame God for the environment we create for ourselves. Our shepherd knows the “green pastures” and “quiet waters” that will restore us. We will reach these places only by following him obediently. Rebelling against the shepherd’s leading is actually rebelling against our own best interests. We must remember this the next time we are tempted to go our own way rather than the shepherd’s way.”
So what are you afraid of? Can you hear His voice? Where is He leading you? Maybe you are facing a move like us, maybe you just got some hard news at the doctor’s office and you are faced with an illness, maybe you are in a relationship that is broken or you are even facing divorce, maybe you are taking care of someone that you love while they struggle with their health. Is your baby getting ready to leave the nest, or are you getting ready to retire? Whatever it is, you have a God that is with you and for you! He is a good Shepherd. He can be trusted. Don’t try to run away from His leading. Remember that He knows the way to the green pastures and the quiet waters. You do have power, love and a sound mind. I am so grateful that He helped me with His whispers of truth to keep hanging on to Him. He was the one giving me strength and helping me to be brave. “We can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength.” Philippians 4:13
Oh Father how we love you. Thank you for being our Shepherd. We are so grateful for your voice. We want to hear you and follow where you lead. Father, help us to not be afraid. Help us to trust in you. You go before us. Thank you for your surprises in life that often help us to run straight into your arms of love and grace. Father, hold us and embrace us and help us to feel your safety, guidance and provision for our lives. We want to be BRAVE. Father, when we do run away from you thank you for taking us back and forgiving us like you faithfully do. Thank you for Jesus! It’s in His name we pray! Amen