14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own sheep and they know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. I give up my life for the sheep.
– John 10:14-15 CEB
(Heads up: this blog has always been a place for me to be vulnerable in a public and controlled way. This is one of those posts where I’m a bit more vulnerable [read: whiny] than is probably healthy, but as far as I know there is a point in there, somewhere…)
I’ve kind of missed a couple of #pictureLent days, which is really sad for me because it was my way of trying to get back into a routine of devotion – and to stop making excuses of why I couldn’t. Then I got sick and busy – which is an awesome combination – and I missed a couple of days. But I’m trying, and I am sticking to my blogging plan (which I’m not saying out loud for fear that just saying it will be enough to make me feel better), so here we are.
(The program is BibleWorks, which is important for what is going on. And I should have cleaned up the clutter, but it also just kind of makes sense given the state of my mind and schedule right now.)
Being a pastor means you are called to be a shepherd. It’s literally the call you sign up for. I don’t find myself using the crook a lot to fend off wolves, but I do find myself guiding and directing as much as I can, given the boundaries of my position. And I love it. Nora’s asked me a few times if I made the right decision for my life’s work and I know that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
But sometimes you don’t want to be the shepherd that day. I woke up yesterday and the cough that started destroying me Saturday settled further into my chest and added sneezing. It was cold outside, making breathing (insert sarcasm), and Nora started her new job. It was Monday, it’s supposed to be my time for Sabbath, and instead I did about 6 hours worth of work. Any other Monday I would have just said, “well, I’ll make up for it some other time this week,” but yesterday it just didn’t set well with me. The laundry and dishes that actually belong on a Monday didn’t get done, the table is clearly still a mess (as is my desk, which is why I’m at the table), and this morning I’ve got some energy back but the cough is still hanging on strong.
I wanted nothing more than to go back to being a sheep in the flock.
My biggest guilt right now is that I haven’t really used scripture as a devotional tool; it’s been my job, and not a whole lot more. And yesterday I stared at BibleWorks for probably 2 hours (and also BibleGateway as a quicker resource) and my soul read none of it. I forgot that I’m still a sheep despite my role as a shepherd.
God is my shepherd. Scripture is His guidance, His staff, and His love expressed.
Yesterday morning I tweeted about penance and hope, but I also think that any study of scripture – be it professional or devotional – that doesn’t end up leading the person studying to hope is flawed. I got nothing of hope out of my studies yesterday; I got tasks done, but no devotion.
If I want to be a sheep, if I want God as my shepherd, I have to let him be the shepherd. Even if I am a shepherd of a small flock, I know that ultimately I am just another sheep that (weakly and slowly and often badly) fights the wolves and guides my fellow sheep. Ultimately I will not be successful if I rely on my own abilities and not the guidance and protection and love of the ultimate shepherd.
I can’t do this alone, and I am admitting that even if I love my role as minor shepherd in the grand scheme, I am not desiring to be in charge. I want to be a sheep in God’s flock. To do that, I need to start relying on scripture again, fully, and not just as a professional tool. That’s my goal.
23:1 The LORD is my shepherd. I lack nothing. 2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows; he leads me to restful waters; 3 he keeps me alive. He guides me in proper paths for the sake of his good name.
– Psalm 23:1-3 CEB