REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP
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
1 – WHEN IN DOUBT – DO THE MATH
2 – VICTIMS TO VICTORS – HIS VICTORY IN US
3 – THE WHO AND WHAT OF THE MATTER
4 – AS THE DEER – SHEEP
5 – PETER I CAN RELATE
When In Doubt – Do The Math
Isaiah 40 – 26: “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength none of them is missing’‘.
My goodness that’s magnificent! That’s majestic! That’s our God! This is the One we pray to. This is the One we trust. This is the One who is “for us”.
So with that truth in mind I’m asking myself today; in the light of our scripture reference, which Goliaths warrant my attention and fear?
Here’s another question that might be helpful once answered: Was the Apostle Paul exaggerating when he said: If God is “for us”, then it doesn’t matter who is against us?
Well there was a Goliath in the bible that a lot of God’s people trembled at the sight of. He being the original “Goliath” has instilled himself as the prime example of “fear not”, with the caveat: unless what or who you fear is bigger than God!
Young David did the math and down went Goliath. The others didn’t and ran for the hills. There’s so much to learn from that biblical event but perhaps the most important to us on a daily basis is the reminder to: “Always Do The Math”.
Avoiding to do so leads to a downward spiral into anxiety. Anxiety short circuits our ability to reason within the context of our understanding of God’s sovereign authority. We then magnify our Goliaths and in the process de-magnify God. Next stop, Panic! The remedy for panic? The Math!
Let’s listen in to some profoundly insightful advice from our friend Isaiah: 41 – 10: “So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”.
I wonder at times if we aren’t our own worst enemies. By the inflating of our questions do we not simultaneously deflate our “answer”?
More all-inclusive assurance: We all have Goliaths, some bigger than others, but none bigger than God!
Heaven’s math is our always available soft place to land our emotions when things look out of control.
So, what is our never-changing foundational truth that substantiates heaven’s math as being verifiably factual? The created “never dictates” to the Creator!
Victims To Victors – His Victory In Us
1 Corinthians 15 -57 : “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.
If we could eavesdrop into heaven’s dialogue concerning us we wouldn’t hear the word victim attached to our names. You see from heaven’s perspective that would be utterly impossible and that which heaven says, is our true reality.
We can’t have biblically described victory and remain a victim. We can feel like, talk like, and act like victims but we can’t actually be one. Simply stated: we can’t be a victim any more than we can be a dog. We can bark all day and eat dog food but that’s as close as we can get to actually being one.
You see our victory isn’t “in us” but rather in Jesus! God gives us the victory, “through” our Lord Jesus Christ. From the cross Jesus said: “It is finished”. All inclusively finished! He took our emotional infirmities on Himself, therefore when Jesus was resurrected so were we, as victors!
He was victimized. His tomb housed His victimization. When he triumphantly arose from the dead, all His abuse was left behind in the tomb as He emerged victorious, victim to victor. His grave couldn’t hold Him therefore neither could His abusers! Therefore, neither can ours!
Thus, His victory imparted to us through His resurrection is our present day reality to walk in as we delight in the Lord celebrating His all-inclusive provision of newness of life with every step! If we believe Jesus was resurrected then we cannot also believe He or we are still victims.
What “we were” and what “we are” have nothing in common with each other. Those two mindsets can’t comfortably co-exist together. Lazarus, once raised from the dead, didn’t continue to act dead. Nor should we!
So, why do we? Well, we haven’t been given the gift of “amnesia” nor will we. We have memories! Some of which were birthed in nightmarish scenarios. The antidote ? “Divinely created displacement”, providing the substance and an atmosphere that is conducent to “old things passing away and all things becoming new”!
Our victory is found in our new resurrection imparted provision where we find ourselves gifted with the ability to dictate the impact of our “what was”, thereby disabling and disarming it from contaminating our new “what is”.
We have all of heaven’s limitless creativity at our disposal to create new memories. Ones that displace and replace the old, walking in “newness” of life being the net result.
When coming upon a “from birth” crippled man, Jesus asked the question: “Do you want to be healed”? Strange question don’t you think? The man had never walked, why wouldn’t he want to be healed?
Jesus knew the attention and livelihood the man had received from his disability would vanish once healed. At times attention for a bad reason can be seen as better than no attention at all.
A comfort level with one’s disabled “known” can cause a person to tolerate their status quo. Keep in mind: The man had never walked!
Jesus knew this scenario was far complicated than a straightforward yes would suggest, therefore He asked the question. Well, the man chose wisely and was healed.
The question is: Was the man healed because of him or because of the Man who asked the question? I’m thinking a combination of both. Jesus provided the “offer” of wellness but the man had to choose to “walk in the offer”, as it is with us.
Today Jesus asks us the same question: Do we want attention from being a victim or victor?
The work’s been done, the price has been paid, the re-labelling has taken place in heaven and the tomb is empty! If Jesus isn’t there then neither are we!
Now it’s just a matter of us walking in the victory that Jesus has ( past tense ) provided. Faith is a gift from God with the always attached caveat of “our choice” determining its activation.
As documented in the bible, the “X” crippled man didn’t leave the scene walking with a limp. Nor should we. As Lazarus discovered, Jesus doesn’t make us “less dead” but rather alive!
The Who And What Of The Matter
Psalm 139 – 13 & 14: “For You ( God ) created my innermost being ( who I am ). You knit me together in my Mother’s womb ( what I am ). I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I ( my entire being ) know that full well”.
Here we see the Psalmist exposing our dual every day realities. The first eternal with the second being temporal, while housing the eternal. In our totality we are meant to be amazing in that we are created by a totally amazing God. Indeed, His works are wonderful!
But our two realities are not equal nor should be seen as such. Our secondary ( what we are ) has major limitations attached and although necessary as a dwelling place, is in no way equal to the contents of the dwelling place.
One of our two realities is predestined and ordained by God to have prominence in our daily lives. Keep in mind; our “what” is no more than the house for our “who” to dwell in.
What a magnificently transcendent lifestyle we have been graciously gifted with by our Lord. To commune with Him spirit to spirit being led into improvisational, impromptu scenarios leaving us always overwhelmed with a sense of privilege that heaven would permit us to participate in its desires for others.
It was the Friday before Mother’s Day and getting the renewal sticker for my licence plate was on the agenda. As I entered the licencing commission in Markham it took no time at all to feel the tension in the room.
There was thirty of us in an area that comfortably could have accommodated fifteen. As customers continued to file in the frustration level grew!
One leaving three arriving type of situation. Nose to nose was everyone’s in the moment state, with faces getting closer and nastier by the minute accompanied by the verbalizing of their massive discontent sprinkled throughout their back and forth dialogue for all to hear.
I was tempted to leave and come back later when things were less hostile. At 130 pounds soaking wet, if violence broke out it was reasonable to think I shouldn’t be there. But being reminded that 130 pounds is “what I am”, I reconsidered my choice, and decided to flash a little “who I am in Christ” at the problem.
With a loud authoritative voice, needed to drown out the justifiable complaints, I asked for everyone’s attention. Strangely they all quieted and focused on my presence, a little like hungry Pit Bulls getting ready to eat!
“Please excuse me for a moment folks I have something to say of extreme importance”!
With my captive audience still silent, likely thinking I was crazy, I proclaimed: “On behalf of myself and all the men present: Happy upcoming Mother’s Day to all you great ladies”!
Well the entire room broke into hysterical laughter accompanied with many comments of thanks and hugs. I like hugs ( from ladies )!
The tension was gone! Still having their attention I took the liberty to give my speech on the incredibleness of woman, being the “givers of life”. While almost losing my male audience I did manage to receive more hugs from the ladies!
Aside from the humorous aspect of it, I’m sharing that story to make a very important point. We are “room changers” as we walk in the power of the God’s Spirit. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty!
Even if you’re 68 ( pushing 69 ) 5 feet – 8 inches ( in shoes ) and 130 pounds ( soaking wet ).
As The Deer – Sheep
Psalm 42 -1 : “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you my God”.
What an amazing mystery is the internal longing of a sheep for its Shepherd. A saved soul for its Savior. A redeemed heart for its Redeemer.
Our scripture reference is so graphically revealing with its use of the word “pants”. We may not have seen a deer pant but we’ve all seen a dog in that dehydrated condition. Water to the dog is not an option but rather a life sustaining necessity! And so it is with us, as the psalmist so beautiful depicts using his “deer” metaphor.
Panting doesn’t conjure up in our minds a sense of casualness. No, there’s a tone of desperation being revealed in the word. A “having to” is the authors desired descriptive of relevance.
I think back to my early days of walking with my Shepherd and realize my passion and thirst for Jesus has increased incrementally over the years. You might think the opposite would be true, having been exposed to His living, loving, and thirst quenching waters for so very long.
It would seem within its contents, those waters have a God birthed desire for more. So we drink deeply, all the while knowing our thirst will return by God’s design. The heavenly created order: We thirst and God quenches from the river that never runs dry.
So I’m left thinking, why would God design this internal longing in us, and make Himself the only source of satisfying the need?
Because He “longs” to have us draw near to Him. He “longs” for us to be dependent on Him. He “longs” to express His love towards us and concluded, making us by design needy would cause us to: Ask of Him . Therefore mutual longings being fulfilled! Result? Relationship!
Peter I Can Relate
Jesus has been crucified, buried, and raised from the dead, thus alive! He appears to His disciples who have basically thrown in the proverbial towel, unaware of His “alive” reality.
On the shore Jesus is seen from their boat preparing breakfast for the boys. One can only imagine that moment of celebration! But not for all. You see for one there was a massive problem.
It was only a few days prior that Peter had fearfully denied knowing Jesus three times. Even worse, he had rebuked Jesus at their “last supper” for saying it would happen!
“Not me Jesus, I would die for you. I don’t know about these others but I repeat, not me”. Wow, he even took the opportunity to take a shot at his fellow disciples!
So for Peter, he had to be torn between two unpleasant scenarios. It’s terrible that Jesus is dead but perhaps more terrible for me if He’s not. Keep in mind we’re talking about “early Peter”.
You see Peter knows, that Jesus knows, about the denial and has to be assuming the worst with no “outs” as an excuse. Guilty beyond guilty and deserving of whatever he gets. Time to face the music face to face, fully expecting every sin to be on the table for exposure and discussion.
Peter approaches his, “hoped to be” still available Lord, while aware that rejection was the deserved and likely result of his shoreline encounter with Jesus.
Well, the list of sins were endless. Our Lords main issue must have been where to start! Let’s see: Peter’s pride. Peter’s arrogance. Peter’s over inflated opinion of himself. Peter’s under inflated opinion of Jesus. Peter’s misguided authoritative critique of the other disciples.
Oh there could have been a plethora of “I told you so’s”, with justification!
So, what did Jesus do? He embraced Peter with one question. “Peter, do you love me”? Which
Jesus repeated three times, perhaps significant based on Peter’s three denials.
Peter answers with what must have been a tear soaked face and a voice trembling to get these words out of his mouth: “Yes Lord, I love You”.
Then I’m thinking Peter wonders: What about the denial? Surely Jesus wants to talk about that rather important event? I basically betrayed Him!
Peter my brother the answer is no. Just, do you love me? With that question answered Jesus says: Come on Peter, let’s go feed some sheep. “My sheep”, of which you are one Peter!
Our Shepherd’s preference will always be “resurrections” over “burials”!