I often describe my days as rushing from one thing to the next with little time to work on what can best be done by me. So by evening, I’m spent. But I’m also blessed to have a job where spending time with God is expected. So I try to begin every morning alone with God. Otherwise, I face the day feeling less prepared and more on edge.
Life is hectic enough around us. Yet our lives are further complicated by a connected world where the actions of persons living thousands of miles away affect us. And since we cope with our lack of control by punishing elected officials, political rhetoric draws our attention away from the real source of our problems.
For example, the protests in China over strict COVID restrictions affect the availability of Chinese imports destined for shelves in our stores. As supply drops, prices go up on seemingly unrelated items. Our appetite for lower-cost convenience keeps demand high.
Russia’s war on Ukraine is putting millions at risk of starvation. Millions depend on imported grain grown in Ukraine, which produces a large amount of the world’s demand for wheat, corn, barley, and sunflower oil. In addition, oil prices increased substantially as the purchase of Russian oil was curtailed. We feel the impact at the gas pump.
And we share the same planet. This means that excess consumption on our part negatively affects the rest of the world, and what happens elsewhere affects us. One case in point: eliminating Rain Forests in South America harms the rest of us. Another example is our addiction to animal fat is supported by ever-increasing herd sizes taking a toll on our planet.
This connectedness affects every aspect of our lives. This makes finding peace a challenge.
The pandemic reminded us that we are so tightly connected that we share disease. But it also taught us that we can share cures. Our connectedness means that we share scarcity. But we can also share abundance. And sadly, we can share conflict, but we can also share peace.
Jesus declared, “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11). And Psalm 23 refers to His role as protector and provider. As such, Jesus leads us to that which we need and crave. We often refer to this paradox as an upside-down economy because this isn’t what we see.
Instead, we watch the greedy enriched, and the humble shutdown. As we know it, the world rewards military might with prestige and wealth. And don’t we elect the persons who degrade their opponents? Aren’t kind words for the weak and meek?
The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need.
The world resists the leadership of Christ in favor of promises made by louder voices with what sounds to be larger and quicker returns. The logic is hard to resist, and believers are also prone to falling for its lure. After all, don’t we accumulate more by holding onto what we have and taking it away from others?
Yet, provision in God’s economy comes from sharing. And abundance comes from serving each other. So when scripture says, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I have everything I need,” we hear a testimony of someone who truly lives as Jesus instructed us to live.
So why do the wealthier want more wealth? Why do the powerful want more power? Don’t they already have everything they need? The truth is that they don’t have that which they need the most. They don’t have inner peace.
Admittedly, it is difficult to find peace when you are lacking. The thirsty look for water, and the hungry search for food. It is hard to find peace while hungry. It’s impossible to rest when thirsty.
Peace does not come easily when we’re lacking. The imagery of Psalm 23 reminds us that Jesus brings rest in fields of green grass beside pools of fresh water. Is it possible to lack nothing and not have everything we want?
God promised that even when we go through the deepest darkness, we never go through it alone. Instead, the Good Shepherd protects us, so we need not be afraid. But there’s more.
Our Shepherd prepares a banquet with such abundance that our cups overflow. And you and I are honored guests at the Lord’s table. And there’s more.
We find peace because we know that the love of the Good Shepherd will sustain us and give us peace. Meanwhile, we gather for worship in gratitude for the good things God does for the world. Finally, we gather for worship to hear the voice of God.
Jesus said that all who belong to Him listen to His voice and follow Him. And that He knows each of them personally (John 10:27).
And this inner peace was promised to actual shepherds keeping watch over their flocks at night. The sky lit up as angels shared the good news that a baby was born that evening who would bring a peace that had eluded the world since the beginning.
“Come to me,” Jesus said, “and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). “Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. The door will be opened to anyone who knocks” (Luke 11:9-10).
I invite you to join us for worship. And if you have a prayer request you can submit your request online on our website home page. In addition, prayer request forms are located around the church and during water and food giveaways.
You can join us each Sunday in person or online by clicking the button on our website’s homepage – Click here to watch. This button takes you to our YouTube channel. You can find more information about us on our website at FlintAsbury.org.
A reminder that we publish this newsletter that we call the Circuit Rider each week. You can request this publication by email. Send a request to connect@FlintAsbury.org or let us know when you send a message through our website. We post an archive of past editions on our website under the tab, Connect – choose Newsletters.
Content for this series is based in part on:
The Wonder of Christmas. An Advent worship series written and produced by © Skit Guys, 2022. Used with Permission.