I recently found myself disoriented following a time of travel. I was out of routine, lost track of what day it was and couldn’t get motivated for the things I was supposed to attend to. There were a couple of large challenges as well, and I couldn’t see how to work through them so that was unsettling.
Then the thought came to me that this set of problems was my opportunity. We are supposed to rely on our Good Shepherd. We are supposed to trust God in everything. So all I had to do was trust God, letting go of my need to see what was going on around me.
The thought struck me that by letting go I could let God work through me, despite how I was feeling. Then God would get all the credit, because it would be Him at work.
The next thought was of how sad it would be if I actually did get back in control of everything. If I can stand aside and let God take charge there is no limit to what can happen. But if I take charge, pushing God aside, then there are very real limits to what can happen.
I thought of the Valley of the Shadow of Death that our Good Shepherd leads us through.
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
I like to have things in control and to be able to see where I am going. I like the big picture and the reassurance of knowing how things work together. I like walking on a ridge or along a mountain trail, where you can see what’s ahead and what to expect.
But in the valley of the shadow you can’t see anything much at all. You don’t know what’s ahead or how things are likely to work out. That’s when you are truly relying on the shepherd and finding your comfort in Him and the assurance He knows what’s going on.
So, I had to abandon my need for reassurance, and find my assurance in the idea that God is in control, despite my blindness to what is going on or how things are going to work out.
The word for that is ‘faith’. It’s trusting God. And it’s easier to come to trust when you are forced to put your own senses and your own need for control out of the way. Learning to trust God in all those situations where you cannot self-affirm or confirm the situation.
In the valley you can’t see what’s around like you can on a ridge or mountain top – so you can’t convince yourself that all is OK, you simply have to trust the shepherd.
Here is the note I wrote in my diary when this came to me:
My problem is my opportunity. I am in the valley and totally reliant on my shepherd, having to give up all hope of achieving things in my own capacity, so, I am blessed to be able to really rely on Him. This happy thought ministered to me and helped me stop being concerned about my malaise, recognising that if anything wonderful happens in my ministry this week God deserves the credit. If anything good comes out of me in anything else I am doing – God deserves the credit. That thought brought a turnaround for me.
May that happy thought put you in the valley too – where you aren’t in control and don’t have a handle on everything, and where you can find true comfort from your Shepherd, not from you controlling your life.