Daily D – Psalm 78:70-71
Psalm 78:70, 71 He chose his servant David, calling him from the sheep pens. He took David from tending the ewes and lambs and made him the shepherd of Jacob’s descendants— God’s own people, Israel. (NLT)
A well-known British television star whose fame was built around his expertise in automobiles began a new venture as a farmer. This included adding shepherd to his areas of knowledge. Notice I did not say, “Expertise.”
The kicker for me was lambing season. Go ahead and watch this episode if you must. I am content never to consider lambing season again for the rest of my life. It is messier and more demanding than you imagine if you have no prior knowledge of the subject.
Re-reading today’s text from Psalm 78 in light of this recent viewing experience, everything takes on new meaning, including verse 72.
“He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.”
You’ve really gotta love sheep, and you’ve really gotta have skillful hands for lambing season.
Working with people is messier than you dreamed when you sat in psychology class and figured out motivations and competing desires. Sociology taught you how to wrangle mores and folkways to move people in the direction you want them to go. Then you met people and it was not nearly as neat as the textbook made it seem.
People are messy. It is impossible to control them without threat of death. Maybe this is why so many politicians move toward totalitarianism as soon as they gain a bit of authority. It’s good to be king. It sucks being a subject.
If you want to prepare to lead people, lambing season will prove instructive. Calving season is also helpful. Cleaning up after milking cows is perhaps most beneficial of all. There’s a lot of, well, waste material to shovel.
Even if we never achieve a leadership position, we have to learn to lead ourselves. We have to learn how to live with others. We have to learn how to serve with true hearts, skillful hands, and cleaning supplies.
Today is likely going to be messy. Every day with people is.
Take a fresh look at the Gospels. Jesus walked everywhere. He walked slowly through crowds. He encountered thousands upon thousands of messy people. He loved every one of them. He loved them to the end. He loved them enough to die for them and to prepare a place in heaven for them. He loves us so much he is coming back for us one day sooner than we think, but not as soon as we would like on some days after hours of messiness with first one person and then another.
Think you can handle it? You can’t. But Jesus says he will teach you how to do it so that you don’t run out of patience, run out on your relationships, or run away from your responsibilities. He says he will unburden you, give you rest, and humbly and gently instruct you. (See Matthew 11:28-30.)
I will lean into my messy day humbly, gently, unburdened, and amply blessed with a song to sing as I clean up this mess.
Our Father, people are messy. This includes me. Thank you for considering me worth it. Empower me to treat others the way I want to be treated today. I want everyone to think like you, to think I am worth the mess. Give me strength for the messy people I will encounter along the way today. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”