In the Old Testament God is often called the Shepherd of Israel. In John 10, Jesus chooses to describe Himself as the True Shepherd, the close personal relationship between Himself and each of His followers; the absolute security we have in Him; His leadership and guidance; His constant company; his unfailing care and sacrificial love, actually giving His life that we might have life. Despite our awareness of this, in the main, we struggle to see or live an abundant life.
There are a variety of reasons we have our joy stolen – regrets over the past, holding onto pain or disappointment, negative health results, etc. If we allow this and more, to rob us of peace and happiness, we are permitting despair to take hold. It takes conscious effort to let go of our past disappointment and to reject worry over the future.
As caretakers, dealing with much discontent and hopelessness, our belief and focus needs to be, that God has something good ahead for us. We take encouragement from the words in Isaiah 43:18-19, “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; See I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the wilderness I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers.”
Today can be a new day for us to let go of ‘whatever’ pain or regret is holding us back from living abundantly. Are we captive to unforgiveness? When we give in to resentment, cynicism or anger, we can find it hard to have joy in our life. When we are held down by old wounds and pride, we get deeper into unforgiveness. Our Good Shepherd wants to reach out to heal us and those we love. It is always about ‘choosing’ stagnant or abundant living.
Gratefulness for today’s blessings brings contentment and looking for ways to bless someone else brings fulfillment. Having eyes to see God working, particularly on difficult days, can be a treasure. It might be a cardinal at the window, the thoughtfulness of a stranger or a hug from a grandchild, all remind that there is good in the world and that God is present wherever kindness, beauty and love are found.
Much to reflect on the words of G.K. Chesterton, “Love means to love that which is unlovable, or it is no virtue at all; forgiving means to pardon that which is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all – and to hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all.” Using the inspiration of the many stories in the Scripture of those who forgave, my prayer is to receive the gifts needed to live an abundant life. Can you choose to summon up faith and courage to accept the Lord’s timing and plans and trust in God’s Word, who call us to live abundantly!