Thursday, February 11, 2021

Contrary to Thought: Sometimes It Must Be About "Me" FIRST...

We've all heard that joy is found following this prescription:

HOWEVER, today it became about "me-first." 


I had already written another blog for this morning. 

But, in the middle of my quiet time, I felt a NEED; no, more like a conviction, to make an explanation.

From even before 2020 ended, I sensed the Lord prompting me to study, research, learn, grow, listen, and seek to understand the problem with sheep-gone-missing.

I'm giving attention to what those voices address, and then to prayerfully, KINDLY, lovingly speak TRUTH where it applies, and to dismiss the rest (not as in cancel-culture-dismissal, but as in not allowing the lies to live, raging, inside of me). 

As I've started blogging some of this journey, I re-read a few of my posts.

Adding them all together and sitting on them all at one time, left me wondering if what I wrote could be misconstrued as if I've got my spiritual-life-all-together, and others not-so-much.

Believe me, this isn't the case.

Each morning, I wake up with a prayer on my lips, that as I dig a little deeper, and learn a little more, the Lord will, first of all, show me where I am WRONG. 

I ask Him to guide my learning, because I know my interpretation of Scripture isn't always on target.

I truly want to know where I am missing the boat, so that my insights, and my responses to those insights (through speaking or writing), aren't just my opinion, but God's TRUTH, as closely as He meant it to be understood. 

There is a blog I have enjoyed reading, and the author of the site has titled it "SLOW TO WRITE."

I love that title.

It's my heart's desire to not speak, or write, in a reactionary fashion, but thoughtfully, after prayer and study.

This morning, I read a prayer in Valley of Vision (a collection of old Puritan Prayers). 

I read a few now and then as I begin my quiet time...

During the middle of this week, this was my prayer...and, I have referred to it daily, sometimes more than a few...

This morning, in reference to sheep who wander off, I read this prayer:

"Oh, Lord, 
Oh, how free is Thy grace
that reminds them of the danger that confronts them
and urges them to persevere in adherence to Thyself...

I bless Thee that those who turn aside may
return to Thee immediately,
& be welcomed without 
ANYTHING to commend them..."  Amen.

BUT, instead of focusing on "them" (as in someone else), I am reminded, that I am often them! 

And, through the Puritans of long ago, it fills my soul, again, to KNOW that EVERYTHING ABOUT THE CHRISTIAN LIFE comes back to GRACE!

I, too, am frequently outside the sheep-fold, not following the blessed way of the Sheep-Path, led by a Good Shepherd.

I may not be in danger on the cliffs, or, afar off, being stalked by wolves, but outside is outside!

For me that may look like "laboring too much for my spiritual life," instead of abiding in Jesus (John 15).

Or, not coming regularly to the fountain that purges my sin (AKA: spiritual pride).

Or, becoming distressed of soul, rather than sitting in the PRESENCE of the one whose JOY is free for the receiving.

"In His presence is fulness of Joy..."
Ps. 16:11b

Or, relying on my own strength, instead of the Resurrection-Power of the Lord Jesus.

Or, forgetting the long arm of God's Salvation, fearing that some are "too far lost."

Or, worst of all, reducing the Majesty of My God in size, so that I become a God-Amnesiac and forget to live in AWE...

AGAIN: Outside the sheep-fold is outside the sheep-fold, and we all need the Shepherd to lift us up over His sweet shoulders and nuzzle us close to His dear voice, reminding us WHOSE WE ARE (!), so we will no longer hear, OR LISTEN TO,  the voices that distract us away from keeping the main thing the main thing!

What's the main thing?

The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The of His earthly to-do-list.

How freely He offers His grace as we return to Him!

How insane is His welcome!

How undeserving is His forgiveness!

And, it is for all of us, ANYWHERE we might be outside the sheep-fold, or not following along the Path THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN TRAVELED before us by the Shepherd! 

As I move forward, please know it is with an acute awareness, I am there (outside), far too frequently myself...drifting...

So, it is with compassion and joy in GRACE abundant, that I share my heart as I am on this road to understanding and knowledge.

And, my intent is that we all do the same:  examine ourselves first, seek TRUTH, and be open minded to where our own path needs to be tweaked because we've transgressed, whether a wee bit, or way too far off. 

Then, and only then, can we address other sheep who are in danger outside the fold...

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