Last weekend, I had the joy of attending an annual women’s retreat. The speaker used Psalm 23 to paint a picture of the many ways in which our Lord is like a Good Shepherd to us (his sheep). The message was life giving to me. I took several pages of notes, so, I can’t share everything here. But, I wanted to share at least one thing that really stuck with me. It was the picture above. This picture is of a sheep that is “cast down.” Before this retreat, when I heard the phrase “cast down,” I associated it with being down in the dumps, sorrowful, or burdened. It does mean those things, but the speaker shared a deeper meaning. When a sheep is “cast down” on its back like this, it physically has no way of turning itself over on its own. The sheep must rely completely on the shepherd to come, roll it over, and get it back on its feet. If no human comes to its rescue, it will die.
In American society, and quite possibly in society in general, I think we all too often hold the philosophy that no matter what the circumstances, WE can “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.” We try desperately to do so, and we encourage our friends that they can do the same. I actually imagine the standing sheep in this picture being much like those friends, saying to the cast down sheep, “You can do it man, roll over!” But, this just isn’t the truth. In many cases, we are just like the cast down sheep--on our backs, trapped, vulnerable, bleating for help, and on our way to death if help doesn’t come soon. We have no way of saving ourselves, and the other sheep around us can’t save us either. Like the sheep on its back, we need to cry out to the shepherd for help, and if our friends want to help us, they need to cry out to the shepherd on our behalf as well. The Good Shepherd always hears when His sheep call, and He promises to come when we do. He will rush to our side, gently turn us over, and give us His strength to help us to our feet.
We are currently going through a situation with our adoption that makes me feel much like this cast down sheep. I’ve tried to think of ways “I” can make things go the way I want them to but have realized I am helpless to control the outcome. I am vulnerable, bleating for help, and asking my friends and family to bleat with me as well. I know my only hope is our Good Shepherd, our Lord, who hears me calling out to him and who will come and set all things right. Only He can get me to my feet and give me the strength to walk through whatever may come.
If you are presently going through something that has left you cast down on your back and unable to turn over, we would be honored if you would share your story with us so we could come alongside you and help in the best way we know how—by bleating to our Father along with you and trusting He will come to your rescue! He is indeed the Good Shepherd, who promises to restore your soul!
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even 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 they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” ~Psalm 23
By Katie Miller
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