We went to church tonight. Pastor Brady preached on the need of the sheep for their Shepherd and the faithfulness of their shepherd. It was a good sermon, and Rob asked me when we got home what I had gotten out of it. I shrugged and answered, "Nothing yet." It was the kind of sermon that you let soak awhile and see what it brings up.
The basic premises were simple: The Shepherd never leaves us, and the Shepherd cares for us. Pretty basic stuff. At least it is until we realize the role of a Shepherd and the desperate need of the sheep. The Shepherd isn't just some guy with a stick. He's the guardian, the protector, "the keeper of our soul", as Pastor Brady says it. Imagine that. The "keeper of our soul."
The past few weeks have been weeks of turmoil for me. Some of it I think I've handled okay, and some I've just bottomed out on. Through it, I've been asking the Lord for direction, not just to get out of it, which is our first reaction, but I've also been asking what the cause was so I don't get into it again. I've tried to be completely truthful, even when it was clear that my "truthful" was pretty stinky and wreaked. Usually hurt feelings and the resulting anger stink.
And I have felt pretty embarrassed by my stinky side. It really is my heart to love and serve the Lord with all I am, and then this stinky stuff comes up. It hurts my heart to be that way because I know it isn't what God wants, and I hate the idea of hurting His heart. I wonder how disappointed or embarassed He gets because of the "stinky" sometimes.
But He is the keeper of my soul, even when my actions stink. I find comfort and peace in knowing that as the turmoil rages around me, and I sometimes rage within the turmoil, He is there, holding on, keeping my soul, knowing my heart is for Him even when my actions don't show it. I try to comprehend this. In the midst of the chaos and pain, even when it hurts so much that there is actual physical pain in my chest, He is keeping my soul, protecting it, leading it, holding it to Him. It has to be His keeping that draws my faith back to Him when evidence gives reason to believe things are beyond change or resolution. When all seems crazy, He holds me in His peace and bids me rest in lovely meadows behind peaceful waters.
Even in the midst of the storm and am what I do not want to be. He keeps me and leads me to be who I can be in Him. The Lord is my Shepherd-my protector, my provider, the keeper of my soul; I have everything I need.