REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP
THE SERIES – BOOK NINE
AUTHOR – BILL TAYLOR
COPYRIGHT 2017 – BILL TAYLOR
PUBLISHED BY BILL TAYLOR AT Shakespir
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Special thanks to Shila and Pragna for their encouragement and inspiration
Galatians 5 – 18: “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law”.
Have you ever purposed to go for a walk with the intention of saying “hi” to all who cross your path regardless of age or gender? It can be fascinating.
The other night Shila and I ( mostly I ) did just that as we embarked on a stroll through a park near her home. We made contact with about fifteen people by the time we were finished. All the while I felt prompted to pay attention to their reactions.
They were all exactly the same; a few seconds of shock, followed with a smile and finished off with a reciprocal “hello”. Perfect strangers, different cultures, different races, different ages, and different genders, all with the exact same response. No one ignored our greeting, thinking us ( mostly I ) to be crazy.
I think as God’s people we should be saying “hello” to His creation as often as possible.
If you dare to take up the challenge you will notice as I did; Many people in our world feel somewhat invisible and “smile” when they discover they’re not!
Walking in the flow of God isn’t always the “big splash”. Acknowledging another’s existence with a sincere “hi” activates our salt and light status and in the simplest of ways declares to that person; you are “seen” therefore you “matter”.
I also believe the bible teaches that “all” Shila and I ( mostly I ) touch will be blessed. We will have to wait for a night when Shila feels far more brave before trying that out! Although I’m thinking; in that “we are not under the law”, the chances of getting arrested are slim!
I Stand In Awe
Have you ever stood in “real” awe? Finding yourself “awestruck” as you experience the no-doubt, undeniable, divinely, unique?
We live in a society that seems to relegate hugely impactful words into generic, tediously repeated, cliché type expressions, thereby demeaning their true descriptive relevance to one of vague meaninglessness.
Take for instance the word “awesome”. Today, everything that is perceived as “remotely good” is now all-inclusively awesome.
So I’m thinking; if everything is awesome then nothing is truly awesome! To experience “true awe” we must elevate our desired visual to a higher place.
One that, while appreciating the mastery of creation, sets its sights on the Creator.
Jesus is referred to in many ways throughout the bible but the most majestic reference is to His “in the beginning” status and Creator of all things that have ever been created, by simply speaking them into existence!
The Sun stays where the Sun stays because it was told to, by Him! The Sun doesn’t have a choice! That’s awesome! Therefore, I’m making the call. Jesus qualifies!
The dictionaries meaning of awe: “The emotion aroused by something or someone, awe inspiring or astounding”.
My meaning of awe: As an experience awe is: A miraculously understood response to a transcendent visual that is beyond one’s natural ability to comprehend, leaving one speechless with its obvious super-natural clarity. Therefore true awe isn’t casual!
Recently while at church standing with the congregation during a time of worship, it was as if the roof of the building was removed and Heaven itself descended, paying us a visit. The roof reference, not literally. The Heaven reference, absolutely!
Well, we all know that God is always with us but this was tangibly and obviously different, like a descending invisible warm blanket of our Lord’s embrace. An unexpected kiss from Heaven. It was Sacred, it was Holy, and I knew it.
Simply stated: It wasn’t and then it was! In a moment in time I was standing in presence of perfection, with a sense of belonging to that perfection while being imperfect in myself.
My only struggle with the experience has been my limited vocabulary while attempting to describe it. Perhaps indescribable is the description. Perhaps moments like this are best interpreted through spiritual sight. This much I can tell you; I know what awe feels like!
I also discovered; being exposed to the Holiness of God is not an experience of apprehensive intimidation but one of emotional awesome admiration! So beautiful that your true desire is to simply bask in it.
Imagine, He desires to be with us! Heart felt worship is our expression of a reciprocal desire. It’s us with open hearts saying: Come close Jesus!
Back to the church service: As much as I enjoyed the experience I was left painfully aware that this should and could be a lifestyle, rather than an occasional pause in a busy schedule.
I concluded the reason for the visitation was the hunger for it. So many distractions for God to wait on before He gets our attention. An attention we need more than Him!
So, is it God that shows up “on occasion” or is it us that welcome Him, “on occasion”? I truly wanted to simply bask in that day. I think Jesus is saying: Why not every day? Indeed why not!
Child Like Hearts
Matthew 19 – 14 & 15: “Then people brought little children to Jesus for Him to lay His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, Let the little children come unto Me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”.
While not promoting childishness, our scripture sees Jesus thoroughly encouraging child-like hearts. I find that delightfully wonderful.
In doing so He is cautioning His disciples as to the folly of getting so “grown up” that seniority and age replaces child-like amazement and enthusiasm in their walk with Him.
I so clearly remember my day one. I came shooting out of that church with something in my soul I didn’t have when entering. The revelation that Jesus was real, loved me, and knew me by name, wasn’t news I could keep to myself. I “awkwardly” exploded into my world telling all who would listen. I was like a “child” who had just discovered something beyond amazing!
I was twenty seven years old at the time and have fought hard over the past forty two years to maintain my ‘‘child-like heart’‘. Strangely, it’s not an easy task. I’ve witnessed the huge cost of accumulated intellect becoming a boring replacement for a heartfelt voyage of inspirational awesomeness with Jesus.
Frankly that approach scares me. When you remove inspiration from information you have downgraded “relationship” to “religion”. It takes a child-like heart to be inspired therefore Jesus says; “For the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”.
On day one Jesus stole my heart. I went from spiritually dead to shockingly alive in Christ and knew it. My Lord breathed an aliveness into me that has never lessoned. In spite of all the ups and downs, I have always been a child-like sheep at the feet of my Shepherd.
I’ve never wanted religious behavior to replace “real”. I’ve never wanted to forfeit the ability to shed a loving tear at the mention of His beautiful name.
I’ve never wanted grace to feel anything other than amazing. I’ve walked with and loved Jesus a long time. He never ceases to amaze me.
He’s never become an intellectual exercise of repetitive numbness. Jesus has never been a habit of religiosity to me. He’s always been vibrantly alive and has made me the same.
All these years later I still smile when I remember my “day one”. That day will never allow my heart to grow old or cold. Besides, that’s not a luxury I can afford. According to our scripture, a child-like heart is an essential.
[*The constant refrain of the mundane should never be found as a contaminant in the landscape of my life with Jesus. My goodness, He called me by name! There are things you simply don’t downgrade or forget! *]
He’s never been more real than He is to me today. It’s interesting how “child-like hearts” are always receptive to the deeper waters of reality, being constantly overwhelmed by what they discover!
What an incredibly inspiring life style my Shepherd has provided for me. If the heart is right, a little bit of heaven can be experienced here on planet earth.
Walking with Jesus should never get old, cold, or repetitive. Why would it, seeing as His mercies are “new” every morning.
Given enough time to cultivate, the alternative to a child-like heart can be a heart of stone. That heart will always miss the point.
I desire to walk in my “first love” every day. There’s nothing in scripture that encourages me to, “grow out of it”, in fact the exact opposite is true.
After all these years I still wonder in amazement why He loves me while knowing He does.
Grace is still amazing, not having deteriorated to cliché status over time. The advantage of being child-like I suppose.
Don’t ever allow the spirit of religion to steal your God given “right” to “reality”. It’s simply too valuable to forfeit! Reality is birthed and takes up residence in child-like hearts.
It’s been over a year since my encounter with what I have come to appreciate as a “major learning experience”. A lesson I find myself in need of constant reminding of.
Have you ever had those conversations in life that leave your ears tingling in disbelief and your imagination baffled? Those exchanges that cause you to silently think; Did I just hear what I just heard?.
Such was the case regarding my “encounter”. Interestingly, it’s always in the aftermath of those moments when the boomerang effect kicks in with the question; Do I think that way?
It was a Monday. As I walked through the doors of a long-time client, I found a mid-fifties lady employee in tears. She had just gotten off the phone from the hospital. Her young college age son had been in an accident and the news was dramatically dire. He had suffered massive spinal damage and was being operated on as the phone call was in progress.
The prognosis was the cause for the tears. “Likely in a wheel chair for life, if in fact we can save him at all”, was all they could say within the context of professional honesty.
I offered the only “appropriate to me” response, as I requested the privilege of praying for her son. My request was granted and we parted with my expressed desire for an update when time and circumstances permitted. It would be two weeks before I would see her again.
Good news! Her son had made it through the surgery and was doing extremely well. Hopes were high that perhaps a slight limp may be the only lingering residue of the accident with the chance that extensive therapy might even resolve that.
Wow! So very much to thank God for I declared! Her response was the vehicle that God used to deliver my previously mentioned, major learning experience.
“I’ll reserve my thankfulness for when the job is perfectly finished”, she said. And my heart sank into my stomach!
It would take me a few weeks before I could navigate around the shock value of the ladies underwhelming response. A reaction that should have been unbridled, euphoric, jubilation.
And then thankfully came the spiritually attached lesson with this accompanying question for me to ponder: When is it time to applaud?
As His sheep, we are on a journey with Jesus our magnificent Shepherd. A voyage of, as The Apostle Paul stated, “pressing on”. While walking out our granted by grace excursion, it’s important to “not forget His benefits”. To not only acknowledge how far we have to go, but equally celebrate how far we’ve come. To reflect with thankfulness on those past times that now find themselves firmly entrenched in the rear-view mirrors of our lives. To do so affords us the insight needed to acknowledge and applaud “God granted” improvements.
So, we all still have some unfinished business to take care of. Therefore we “press on” but not without pausing frequently to say thank you for the improvements in ours and others lives.
Let’s trust that it will be done on earth as it is in Heaven and “press on”, knowing our finish line is guaranteed by the cross..
There was once a man who needed $1,000.00. He couldn't imagine being able to instantly find such an amount so he decided to look for $1.00 - 1000 times.
Well, we are all 1,000 dollar bills in Gods sight, being produced $1.00 at a time. Therefore, we “press on” applauding each and every dollar. Heaven does!
Philippians 3 – 12: “Not that I have already attained all this or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me”.
We “press on”, one celebrated improvement at a time. Consider an earthly parent as they watch their baby make its first attempt at walking. One step followed with what? Applause! It’s the applause that motivates the second step!
The parent doesn’t say; I’ll reserve my celebration until you make it to the other side of the room. In fact the parent goes so crazy over that one step you’d think the child had just ran a marathon!
Now, how much more does our Heavenly Father applaud us, cheer for us, and encourage us, to “press on”.
In reverse but equally and reciprocally appropriate; How much more should we applaud Him for our enablement to do so!
The encounter with my lady friend taught me this: Don’t wait until “perfect” to applaud God!
When I think of this rather lovely word I associate its relevance to that of Caterpillars becoming Butterflies.
The descriptive “becoming” is rather soft in relationship to the actual morphing process.
The once rather ugly cocoon dwelling Caterpillar breaking free to discover it’s meant to be spectacular beauty is “violent”. It fights with such ferocity its very life hangs in the balance.
[*And yet without the fight, the wings of the “to be” Butterfly would not be strengthened enough to fly. *]
The Cocoon and the Caterpillar, while having their individual purposes in the morphing process, are eventually left behind allowing the Butterfly to explode out of its cocoon and into the revelation of its divinely pre-destined destiny. To be a Butterfly!
The dictionaries meaning of morph; To transform or be transformed “completely” in appearance or character. Spiritually speaking, that’s a perfect description of us!
1 John 3 – 1 > 3[[“See what great love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us, is that it did not know Him. Dear friends, now we are children of God and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure”.*]
“Metamorphosis” is for us: The ongoing process of being transformed into something, or in our case someone, completely and beautifully different, accepting the struggles of strengthening as part and parcel of the process, thus not allowing them to be a source of discouragement but rather embracing them as God’s tool of completion, all the while sensing that struggles, be they often uncomfortably difficult, have in fact divinely inspired purpose within their content!
Romans 12 – 2[[“Do not conform to the pattern of this world*] but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is: His good, perfect and pleasing will”.
2 Corinthians 3 – 18[[“And we all who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory,] [*are being transformed into His image] with ever increasing-glory which comes from the Lord, who is the spirit”.
As the Caterpillar gradually becomes a Butterfly, we in the same way are morphing to be more and more like Jesus, and less and less like ourselves, step by step and day by day.
[*Sometimes the changes are unrecognizable at a glance, but be assured they are happening. How can I be so sure? Well, the scripture says we “are being” transformed, therefore it’s not us doing the transforming. *]
God has for us an “image”, waiting to be worn and displayed to the world. The image of our Shepherd. An image that is altogether lovely! Image bearers of Jesus has always been our pre-destined calling and purpose. Just as the Butterfly was meant to be a Butterfly, we likewise were meant to be like Jesus. I find that incredibly exciting! He is the love of my life and the object of my affection for a reason!
[FREE E-BOOKS BY BILL TAYLOR]
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK ONE
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK TWO
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK THREE
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK FOUR
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK FIVE
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK SIX
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK SEVEN
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP – THE SERIES – BOOK EIGHT
THE ROSE AND THE THORN
WILLING HEARTS – NO LIMITS
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
THE SECOND CROSS
BULLS IN CHINA SHOPS
FAITH IS A JOURNEY
THE HEART IS SACRED
REJOICE – IT’S A NEW DAY!
BLESSED & CONTENT
MY FRIEND – MY PEACE – MY LORD