I want to start off today by sharing a moving poem by Daryl Madden. Check it out here. Daryl wrote this specifically for my one word of the year – Shepherd! I was truly touched and I really love the words. (And by the way, Daryl shares a poem every day. So if you enjoy insightful poetry, I recommend following Daryl’s blog.)
AND before I dive into my post, I wanted to wish my parents a very Happy Birthday! (Yes, they share the same birthday.) Here’s to good health, many blessings, and happiness in the year ahead! 😘💕🙌🥳 (And if you want to wish them a Happy Birthday as well, I can tell you that my father will see this. My mother might if she didn’t have an array of challenges with technology. 😁)
And an admin note before I move on – If you follow the Christians Read blog, you might have noticed that I have not been posting there the past few weeks. This may be a temporary thing? That is what I foresee right now. There has been a lot on my plate recently, and I had to make some adjustments. Regarding this blog, I do hope to post weekly. But this might not always be possible, as I continue to juggle things around. So thank you in advance for your grace. I am trying to follow the Shepherd’s lead, which is what we are talking about today…
Here are a few things that have been on my mind and heart over the last few weeks…
1 – When we remember that the Lord is our Shepherd, this means we follow His lead. It means we listen for His directives and proceed accordingly. This should be true whether we are on the mountain top or in the valley. But in different seasons of our lives, the ease of this might change. In good times we run the risk of forgetting we need a Shepherd. And in the bad times, we run the risk of growing cold in our relationship with our Shepherd. No matter what season you are in right now, take the time to listen for your Shepherd’s voice and follow His lead. This is a daily decision. Maybe even a moment by moment decision.
2 – When we follow the Shepherd’s lead, this might not make sense to other people. We might make decisions that some will disagree with. And sometimes the path doesn’t make sense to us either. But we have peace because we heard the Shepherd’s voice, and we are following Him. We can seek godly counsel and we can seek God in prayer to make sure we heard right. Then we follow His lead. In a way, this is similar to what we talked about last spring, to live for an audience of One. We cannot live to please people. We must live to please God alone.
3 – Allowing God to be the Shepherd might mean stepping back and adjusting our focus. This will be a time of going back to basics, and removing distractions. We choose to be intentional with our time. The lures of the world don’t sway us. We know He is all we need. With some of the things I have been dealing with, I have many unknowns ahead. And that is true for all of us. This can be scary. Yet, in a way, this is also ideal. God knows what lies ahead. So we have an opportunity to focus on the Good Shepherd, follow His lead, and learn to trust Him.
4 – No matter where you are, our Shepherd is there beside you. He will guide you and encourage you. But sometimes this means being intentional about looking around. Over the last few weeks, I have been encouraged by reading other people’s blog posts, reading my Bible, prayer, and much more. These all remind me that God is with me, even when I don’t feel it. Sometimes encouragement might come through other people as well. My husband and I received a Christmas card in the mail that was so special. And it wasn’t the card itself that hit me, but what the sender wrote on the inside. When I attended college, I worked in the library, and Gloria was my boss. I haven’t seen her in over two decades, yet we still exchange Christmas cards. On the inside of the card, she wrote: “Dear God, Give them joy, love, laughter and peace! Amen.” This touched me so much because she had no idea that we really needed that. But God knew! In the words of my friend and fellow blogger, David, “God seeks us out before we even know we need Him.” It is comforting to know that God is always near, ready to encourage us.
I know the year ahead will be long. Seasons and circumstances will continue to fluctuate. It is easy for me to seek the Shepherd now because I am still in the quiet lull that follows New Years. But as things change, I hope I can remember to continually follow the Good Shepherd and listen for His voice. Thank you for taking the time to read my post today. I spent more time than I want to admit writing and deleting 😅, as I tried to organize my thoughts and share some of the things that were on my heart. We are just getting started in 2023, but I hope in the months ahead, we will grow and learn together. 🐑 (And as you can see, I am having fun with the emojis. Hey, you gotta live a little!)
© Bridget A. Thomas 2023