Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Distracted Sheep," By: Kelli Zaniel

“Be still and know that I am God; The Lord Almighty is with us”
(Psalm 46:10).

Have you ever strayed from the will of God and as a result lost precious intimacy with Him? It is easy to fill our schedule with so much “busyness,” that we neglect to actively pursue a daily love-relationship with the Father. I recently read an acronym for the word busy (Being Under Satan’s Yoke). If this preoccupation is not identified in a timely manner, it could potentially cause us to slowly drift away from God, sacrificing our divine fellowship with Him. If I miss personal time conversing with my heavenly Father, I can feel myself slipping under sin’s spell. I am quick to anger, impatient, irritable and negative. I then succumb to overwhelming situations, adopt a discouraging attitude and miss out on opportunities to discover God’s presence in ordinary tasks. There is nothing on my calendar that is more priceless than my daily relationship with God.

God is in pursuit of me; He chooses me (see Hos. 11:7-1). He is the One who initiates a love relationship that is both personal and sincere (see John 1:12). He desires to develop my character through my absolute dependence on Him and complete surrender to Him.

Jesus spoke about how intimacy is lost with the Father and described this in Luke chapter 15. In versus 3-7, Jesus made reference to lost sheep. How do sheep lose their way and become disconnected with the shepherd? Sometimes, as sheep travel along with the flock, temptations creep up like thieves, stealing their attention away from the leader. They are robbed of their focus and therefore, tend to investigate and pursue whatever catches their eye at the moment. It was never their intention to wander off, but curiosity seduces them down unfamiliar paths. Gradually, after one glimmering distraction and then another, the sheep realizes that it has wandered so far, that the rest of the flock is no longer visible. Now the sheep has entered uncharted territory and is vulnerable to imminent danger. The sheep loses all sense of direction. The security of knowing the shepherd is nearby for protection and instruction has vanished. Without its guide, the sheep will stumble and surely perish.

Aren’t we sometimes easily distracted, just like the sheep described in the book of Luke? I am guilty of wandering off in my own selfish direction seeking to satisfy the curiosity of the moment. At these times, I tumble out of my Father’s righteous right hand into the open arms of a sinful world around me. When I am spiritually separated from my Master, I settle for less than God’s best. I am more susceptible to Satan’s slithering hisses of doubt and discontentment. The Bible tells us we are to keep our focus straight ahead, look for the Lord’s footprints and cautiously detour away from evil (see Prov. 4:25-26).

Maybe you have set aside prayer and conversation with God because you have become overly engaged with daily concerns. We saturate our calendars with worthy activities but later feel prisoner to them. We, like the sheep, sometimes drift out from underneath the protection of our Shepherd causing us to stumble into the bushes of temptation. Unfortunately, one day, we may wake up to discover we do not hear from God anymore. We may have lost treasured intimacy with our heavenly Father. We may realize we are no longer spiritually victorious. We are ordinary sheep if we stand alone, but if we remain under the guidance of the Good Shepherd we become extraordinary.

As our little sheep hooves trudge across the narrow path, we may encounter prickly vines of evil and treacherous paths of temptation but we will remain unscathed. “Let God guide your way of wisdom and make your path straight” (Prov. 4:11). It is good to be near our heavenly Father (Ps. 74:28). He is my refuge, He sustains me, lifts my head and delivers me (see Ps. 3:3,5,7).

When the Good Shepherd locks eyes with yours and asks, will you spend time with me, get to know me and love me? How will this sheep respond? Will you be still, refuse self-imposed busyness and reverently honor Him? Can you make the proper adjustments in your life and in your heart that require total dependence on Him? I am willing to deny myself, take up His cross daily, exalt Him and follow Him (see Luke 9:23-24).

Will you be the sheep who’s preoccupation gets her into a steep mountain of trouble or will you be the sheep who consistently relies upon the limitless strength and guidance of her Good Shepherd?

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