A Sheep Finds His Way Home

Three people stood viewing the Grand Canyon: an artist, a pastor, and a cowboy. As they stood at the edge of the abyss,
each one responded as he was overcome with emotion.
The artist exclaimed: “Oh, what a beautiful scene to paint!
The pastor echoed that sentiment: ” Oh, what a wonderful example of God’s handiwork!”
Then the cowboy responded: ” Oh, what a terrible place to lose a cow!”

Life is about perspective and attitude. We all bring with us a multitude of experiences, joys, challenges, and disappointments. We can’t always control what happens to us. But, we can choose how to respond to what happens to us.

I’ve enjoyed the journey through Psalm 23 this month. It has been good to reflect upon David’s metaphors in describing how he felt about the Lord. He drew upon the most personal language he could to do this. David had been a shepherd, and his core identity remained secure in that distinction.

No matter what happens, it’s good remember who we are, and Whose we are along the way. The Lord has been good to each one us, and despite (and because of) the valleys along the way, we can more ably appreciate the life we have now.

Linda Bollenbach is a chaplain at Mercy Hospital, and she spoke to us last Wednesday night on the subject of “Advanced Directives.” She culminated a month long Wednesday night emphasis on “Before Winter Comes: Planning a Good Death.” Once again we were reminded of how difficult the subject of death is to talk about. Linda did a great job telling us about Living Wills and Power of Attorney, and  telling us to do all that we can now to make our wishes known as it related to how we wanted to die. She asked one question, however, that has stayed with me this week. It was simply this: “How do you want to be remembered?”

I had to go by the middle school to pick up my daughter Lucy. She stayed after school for her debate club meeting. Upon meeting her teacher for the first time, she told me that “I’m teaching them how to argue.” For a moment, it made me wonder about the wisdom of putting Lucy in there. But, I know that really is what debate club is about and so we’ll see what becomes of that.

Anyway, on the way to the debate class, I noticed numerous papers in the hallway on the wall where students were displaying their work. One of the assignments read “Describe your life in 30 words or less.”  I realize this reflective assignment is being completed by 6th graders, but it get me to wondering how I might answer a question like that too.

I think Psalm 23 is a way of understanding David’s life “in 30 words or less.” I didn’t go back and count the exact number, but the ebb and flow of the metaphors in this chapter is a wonderful way to understand who David was and how he viewed his life. His core identity was that of a shepherd, and he drew upon the most personal language he knew to talk about his closeness with the Lord.

David closed this beautiful psalm with an affirmation that he “would dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” He wasn’t giving a fully developed eschatological statement, but rather a statement of hope and optimism that his future was secure with his Lord. As a “sheep”, David wanted to live the remainder of his days in the full view of the wonderful shepherd who had been with him his entire life. In short, David was home.

No matter what “season of life” you might be in, only you can give an answer for that provoking question. Never underestimate the value and impact you have on others around you. We are God’s people, a community of faith connected through a common faith in Jesus Christ. Each one of us is important. Let’s endeavor to focus our perspective on the beauty and blessings around us.

Remember, life is a gift and time is so precious.

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