Friday, February 17, 2012
Lord, give me and mine the comfortable enjoyment of thy presence forever, and then try us as Thou pleasest. Thy preserving power is all that I desire of Thee... - Joan Vokins (1691)
It took me a long time to come to a place where I could say this, but I believe in God. And not just any God; the God who created the cosmos and remains here with us as an intimately loving and surprisingly creative presence. The God I believe in and have experienced is one who is actively involved in the life of each individual, and in the course of human history as a whole.
The writers of the Old Testament were fond of the image of the Shepherd as a metaphor for God, and Jesus adopted this image as one of the primary ways he spoke about God's relationship with humanity. The good news of Jesus is, to put it a certain way, that we have a reliable and loving Shepherd, who will guide us through the trials and triumphs of life. If we keep our eyes on him, we can trust that we will be led into the fullness of God's purposes for our lives.
I am not a very good sheep. Being a sheep takes a lot of faith, but my faith is weak. Even though I have experienced the love and guidance of God time and again, even though I have the witness of Scripture and of my Quaker community to remind me of who God is, I often fail to place my trust firmly in the Spirit. I love the Truth, but the reality is that I often cherish my own sense of control even more. Far too often, I choose to make myself miserable by clutching to control rather than to embrace the joy and peace of surrender to my Shepherd.