Today, I’d like to showcase a fellow author, Carol Round, who wrote a lovely book and workbook helping others learn to prayer journal and get closer with God. Find Carol on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog.
Is the Lord Your Shepherd?
The Lord is my shepherd,I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides mealong the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.—Psalm 23:1-4 (NIV)
If someone asked, “Is the Lord your shepherd,” how would you respond? If you are unsure of your answer, maybe you need to examine what it means to be one of His sheep.
First, let’s consider the first words in one of the most beloved of all passages of scripture, the 23rd Psalm. In this passage, and throughout the New Testament, we discover two truths about our Lord as Shepherd. As the Good Shepherd, He laid down His life for His sheep. Second, His sheep know His voice and follow Him (John 10:11, 14).
If you’re familiar with the nature of sheep, you know that they have a natural tendency to wander off and get lost. As believers, we often do the same. As Isaiah has said, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). When sheep go astray, they are in danger of getting lost, being attacked by predators, or even killing themselves by falling off cliffs.
Did you know that while cattle can be driven along a trail, sheep cannot? You can’t go behind sheep with whips or prods and drive them. Sheep must be lead. You have to go ahead of them and get them to follow you. A relationship rapidly develops between a shepherd and the sheep for which he cares; however, it is dependent largely upon the use of the shepherd’s voice. Sheep quickly become accustomed to their owner’s particular voice—its tone, peculiar sounds and inflections. Sheep are able to distinguish their master’s voice from that of any other person.
What does it mean to be one of His sheep? I was baptized at the age of 14; however, for most of my life, I did not heed the Shepherd’s voice. Although I had acknowledged with my head that He was my Savior, I did not give Him my heart until I was in my late 40s. I wasn’t a bad person but I wasn’t living my life for Him. I wasn’t following my Shepherd.
After a series of life-changing events, including the end of my 28-year marriage, I realized I was lost. If you had asked me at that time in my life to identify who I was, I could have told you my name and identified myself through various roles—daughter, mother, sister, friend, teacher. But who was I really? I didn’t know until one sunny October afternoon in 2001 when I reached out for the very first time to my Abba Father. I admitted my need for Him when I cried out, “God, I need some direction in my life, please show me the way.”
From that day on, I began to seek Him, not only by reading scripture but also through the pages of my prayer journal. As I poured out my heart to Jesus, who I thought I was began to unravel on the white pages of my journal. During this process of inviting God into my writing, I discovered that my life had been a lie. As a people-pleaser, I had lived life for others and not for Him.
When I recognized this truth—that I had not allowed Jesus to be my Shepherd—my life’s focus and purpose began to change. For me, it was a time of self-reflection, a time to slow down and re-evaluate my priorities. As I did, I began to identify God’s fingerprints in my life and in the lives of others. I began to see myself as one of His sheep.
“The sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3b). Are you listening to His voice? Is the Lord your Shepherd as well as your Savior?
After retiring from a 30-year teaching career, author Carol Round followed her dream. Her stories, poetry and essays have appeared in local, state and national publications and anthologies. With God’s guidance, she has also written one 500-word column, which runs in 12 Oklahoma newspapers and 2 on-line newspapers, each week since November 2005. She is also the author of four books, all available at Amazon.com: A Matter of Faith, Faith Matters, Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God and the companion workbook, The 40-Day Challenge. Her fifth book, Sola Fide: by FAITH alone will be released in November 2012. For more information, readers can go to her blog at www.carolaround.com or her website, www.journalingwithjesus.com.