One of the things I love about going to Ellel Grange in springtime is seeing the sheep with their new-born lambs in the fields next to the driveway. In the spring sunshine, it’s an instant reminder of the green pastures and quiet waters of Psalm 23.
But it’s only just over a month ago that the British countryside wasn’t such an idyllic place for sheep, and we were watching news reports of farmers trying to locate and rescue them from deep snowdrifts in many parts of the UK. I caught the end of a TV programme, in which a farmer explained that sheep shelter against hedges, thinking they are a safe place. But in a blizzard, wind drives snow against the hedge, and the sheep’s ‘safe place’ is actually the most vulnerable place. They often end up buried under very deep snowdrifts there.
He said, ‘Sheep give up easily, so it’s important to get to them as soon as possible’. But when he gets to them in his tractor to dig them out, the snowdrift has formed a kind of igloo around them, and despite being without food, true safety and any hope of escape, the sheep think, ‘You’re exposing me to cold again’, and stubbornly resist being rescued.
We are sheep! When the sun’s shining in our lives, we have no problem believing the Lord is our Shepherd, who graciously provides us with all we need, protects us and keeps us safe. But when the snowstorms of life come, how many of us retreat into an ‘igloo’ of independence, isolation, comfort-eating, an addiction of some other kind, occupying every moment with busy-ness, or some other ‘place of safety’ we hide in. Our ‘igloos’ might feel safe, they might give us temporary respite, but ultimately, they lead to misery, certainly not the freedom and abundant life the Good Shepherd promises.
Perhaps even today there is a snowdrift of unresolved issues of your life building up and threatening to overwhelm you. Like sheep, we don’t naturally trust that the Good Shepherd really is there to rescue us. Our natural inclination is to trust that our ‘igloo’ is safer than allowing Him to take us to that place of letting go of our control and ‘resting in the shadow of the Almighty’. May I encourage you today to look up and meditate on Psalm 91, and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work of melting our resistances with the warmth of His promises. Then we will no longer want to dig our heels in and stay in places that can never lead us to freedom and abundant life, but will willing draw close to Him and allow Him to cover us with His wings, so that we can truly experience Him as our Refuge and our Fortress.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I am a sheep. When I am overwhelmed or fearful, when I feel vulnerable, I confess that I have my own ‘safe places’ I run to. (It’s helpful to be specific and to name them.) Thank You for being the Good Shepherd who gave up everything to come and rescue me. As I dwell in Your Word today, please help me by Your Holy Spirit, to receive the truth in the deepest part of my being that the safest and best place I can ever be, is close to You, allowing You to cover me and protect me, and truly be my place of refuge and my fortress. I know that the more I receive Your truth, the more I will want to always stay close to You, and the less I will want my old protections. Thank You, Lord Jesus, Amen.
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