He restores my soul.

–Psalm 23:3a ESV

 

Sigh
No moving now
Wedged into this crevice
By an unexpected slip of the foot
Sweat droplets form on my face
Oh, for a drink—of anything

Breathing becomes labored
Heart beats faster
Legs numb
Internal systems
Flash their warning:
Life at risk

Images of the past
Drift through my hazy mind
Rash decisions
Courageous choices
Anybody there?
I whisper into the air

Determination rallies
Must move, now
Can’t move
Uungh!
Please, God . . .
Help me!

Groan
The Shepherd’s concern:
Reach the inner crevice
Where hope lies
Buried beneath
Painful rubble

Picking His way
Along jutting boulders
Through thorny briers
Of interior mess
He knows without seeing:
Life is still possible

Images of the past
Remembered perfectly
Nursing, teaching to walk
Budding independence
O, child of my love
I won’t let you go

Love surges
Breathes out deeply
Don’t be afraid
I will rescue you
I AM here

I collapse in His arms
As He lifts me
Gently to my feet
Still unsteady
I search His face

Oh, how I love you
He murmurs
I‘ve always been with you
Take My hand
Let’s walk home

Once a sheep loses its balance and rolls onto its back, a “cast” sheep will lay with its feet flailing in the air, unable to stand up on its own. The weight and shape of a sheep’s body prevents it from being able to regain its footing. The image is funny, but the condition isn’t. Within minutes, blood flow to limbs is cut off as gases build up in a chamber of the sheep’s stomach. Without a shepherd’s intervening care, a cast sheep will die.

How do we lose our balance and end up on our backs? Sometimes we can trace the way, seeing in hindsight a set of foolish or selfish decisions we made. Other times we find ourselves looking up helplessly because our bodies and minds are sick or tired; we don’t have the strength to right ourselves. Whether from our own fault or from simply being frail human beings, we can find ourselves cast and in need of a Shepherd’s rescue.

God doesn’t fence us in so that we can’t endanger ourselves. We live with the Shepherd in open spaces in real life. Security comes in that He is always perfectly aware of our location and position, even when we’re clueless. He isn’t callous or cynical about how we think, act, or feel. His eyes are on us at all times. And they are eyes of love that know what it will take to restore us.

ACTION: What’s your “position” today–are you walking, sitting, or cast on your back? In what ways do you need restoring? Talk with the Shepherd about what is troubling you, and what prompts gratitude. How might the Shepherd be inviting you to grow in security with Him?

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