HEAR, LISTEN and FOLLOW
The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. -John 10:3
Just when you thought it’s about time to leave and move on, good things happen that makes you realize that it’s still worth one more shot. just lately, I’ve been earnestly asking God if it was His will that I resign as the shepherd of His flock and move on. It even coincided with the arrival of a new pastor in our church, taking that as an affirmation from God that it was indeed time for me to leave. I felt that the YPN needed a new shepherd’s voice to lead them into new pastures. There was no Word for it, though.
I was kind of feeling that way simply because the YPN has reached a point where I felt voiceless to lead them into going where they’re supposed to be going.
A Voiceless Shepherd
It all started when it was proposed that we move the friday night “youth service” because most of the leaders cannot attend coz of conflicting scheds. So we agreed. There were already problems then but it only escalated things into a graver situation.
Since the youth service was moved after the regular service, most of them are now itching to go home or too hungry to attend “another” service. Everytime I stood on the pulpit I could discern the thick cloud of uneasiness among the youth. On top of that, nobody listens anymore to what I’m saying in the front.
“But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me.” -Psalm 81:11
“But if you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the LORD’s flock will be taken captive.” -Jeremiah 13:17
Things went that way for many weeks, the supposed service became a mere after- service meetings which was often cancelled because the elders often held meeting after the service too.
I became a voiceless shepherd. Meaning, youth service was a way for me to let them know which direction they should be going in matters of life and godliness. and without that, they lost the voice they need to listen to know which direction to go.
The Scattered Flock
Then came the nightmare of every shepherd. SHEEPS SCATTERING, WANDERING AWAY AND GOING ASTRAY! Outside they seemed Ok. Waking up, going to school or work. I chat with them on Sundays and they seemed ok. I ask how they’re doing and all I get is the usual smile followed by the usual remark “OK lang, pas.” But it’s in the little details that you get hints of the problem.
I read their facebook statuses and i could see hints of “something’s not right with this kid.” It’s in the little details, some begin complaining about the hardships of the ministries they’re involved in, wanting time off in the ministry. Others are either skipping sunday church or arriving very late. Its in the little details but some hints are obvious enough to be noticed, a kid sitting during the whole sermon, looking down and staring at nothing, like a zombie.
Then I get shocked by news that some are involved in questionable relationships, you hear news of a kid undergoing depression, stuck in a quagmire of a personal problem and feeling powerless to overcome it. Everybody seemed to have forgotten they where christians and was acting as though they were not. It was total spiritual anarchy of cataclysmic proportions.
The Master Shepherd took over
It was one night that I felt so overwhelmed with all these problems that I cried to God. bursting off in tears which such transparency I must’ve shook heaven with all of that anguish, regret and cries of pain. It pains to know they are losing their way like that. Because I know that their failure to live a life in Christ is my failure as a shepherd of His flock. And I pain for God to see them acting that way.
I felt inadequent before God. That’s when grace once again took over. And I told Him I was weary of trying. And, God told me to quit trying. It sounded like a revelation, but it felt like God’s grace in action because I got it on a deeper level. I’m going to quit trying and start doing. Trying is exhausting, doing is exhilirating.
As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. -Ezek 34:12
“Get back on preaching the Word. Call them back and lead them to where they’re supposed to be heading.” And so it was. Encouraged once again. I will stop trying and start doing. I don’t how I should start again but I know I’ll just have to do it.
“Hear the word of the LORD, O nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: ‘He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd. ‘-Jeremiah 31:10
I realize more than ever that sheep need the shepherd’s voice or else they will wander astray. But my only prayer is that they would HEAR, LISTEN and FOLLOW my voice.
I was surfing the net for some nice site to have my spirit energized and I was surprised with whatt I happen to stumble upon. So I wanted to share a great bit of truth I learned from Daniel Darling from the website: crosswalk.com
Is God Fair? Maybe Not, but He’s Right…
“What I believe about God is the most important thing about me”
As I looked across the table at her, I could still see the pain in her eyes. She had been rejected years ago, but the hurt was still fresh. Linda Sullivan, my mother-in-law had grown up in a Christian family and had harbored dreams of working with young children, showing them the love of Christ. She met a young man at a Christian youth camp and soon married him. He was going to be a lawyer, but he could have been a pastor. That’s how people felt about him. When they both walked down the aisle it would be the beginning of a great life together.
But, Linda’s dreams were shattered only a few years into her marriage. She was pregnant with their third child when her husband announced that he was walking out on the marriage. He was in love with someone else. Another man.
When I look at her to this day, I see a survivor, a woman who has been through life’s worst trials. Linda had to work two jobs to support her children. She saw two of her children get involved in drugs and alcohol abuse. And three years ago, she nearly died from a quadruple bypass.
When I first heard my mother-in-law’s story, my first thought was, That’s really unfair! All she wanted was a good, Christian family and instead she had to patch together a dysfunctional survival. When God Isn’t Fair In a parable He shared with his disciples, Jesus seemed to suggest the very notion the Heavenly Father does not always deal with his children in a way that seem equitable. In Matthew 20, Jesus paints a portrait of the Kingdom that looks and sounds so patently unjust that were it a reality today, most Christians would scream out at the injustice. But, amazingly, Jesus used this as a picture of how God deals with His children.
Jesus tells the story of a farmer, who represents God. Needing to harvest a bumper crop in his vineyard, he goes into the marketplace and hires a crew of laborers. He promises them a fair day’s wage.
Later in the day, he realizes he’ll need more help. So he again goes to the marketplace and hires a few more men looking for work.
He does this several more times and hires his last crew with just an hour of harvesting remaining. But at the end of the day, the master of the vineyard gave each worker the same pay, regardless of how long they worked.
In our world this seems patently unfair. But, when we look at this story through the lens of grace, instead of the unbending scales of justice, we begin to understand the difference between our thinking and God’s. Jesus made the careful, firm argument that what is fair to man isn’t always right in the eyes of God.
You and I would say those who toiled the hardest and longest should be rewarded more. But Jesus saw it differently. Those ungrateful workers might have well been unemployed if not for the opportunity presented by the master of the vineyard.
Is it their right to question his generosity? Weren’t they paid their promised wage? We would scream at the injustice, but we’d be wrong. This parable illustrates the broad theme of Scripture: God’s grace. Just like the idle workers in the marketplace, we were all in a position of need. They were looking for a job, but we are looking for mercy.
The master of the vineyard wasn’t concerned with how long the workers were unemployed—He only knew they needed a job. Similarly, God doesn’t see the amount of sin we carry. In His eyes, we are all sinners in need of salvation. We are all in need of grace.
The Heart of God Revealed At the Cross
Random tragedy and heartbreak seem to point to a God who is either detached from humanity or has no control over the world. However, the true heart of God is revealed at the spectacle that took place 2,000 years ago on a hill called Calvary.
First, God’s is infinitely just. And from the Garden of Eden to the present day, all men have sinned and violated God’s holy order (Romans 3:23). No matter how small, this sin has a penalty—death, separation from God forever (Romans 6:23).
Yet, while the cross reveals God’s justice, it also reveals His great love. God sent His son, Jesus to take the punishment for man’s sin because man couldn’t possibly redeem himself. (2 Cor 5:21). This was the greatest act of love (1 John 4:9).
This was the greatest agony for the heart of a holy God wasn’t watching his Son beaten to a pulp and crucified; it was in the knowledge that His perfect Son would assume all the sin of mankind.
These actions don’t strike me as terribly fair. The crucifixion was the greatest injustice in the history of the world. And yet, it was allowed by God for the payment of our sin.
What Do We Deserve?
So in light of the cross, what really do we deserve? Anyone who has been redeemed by God can no longer view themselves as having been treated unfairly by God. The gift of His son at salvation was both a gift we never deserved and yet a terrible injustice on our account. The reality is that we are not owed anything by God. Instead we owe Him a debt of love we can never repay. The hymn, “Come Thou Fount” says it best in its third verse:
“O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!”
Grace gives us the proper perspective on life’s seeming injustices. As hard as it is to fathom, the most tragedy-struck Christian has tasted overwhelming amounts of God’s grace. More than even that soul deserved.
So if we were to be completely honest, we wouldn’t want God to be fair. If He was, then He wouldn’t have sent Jesus to pay for our sins and we would be bound for a hopeless eternity. And He wouldn’t walk beside us daily, giving us strength. He wouldn’t extend His hand of forgiveness when we fail.
Instead, we should be glad we serve a God who is right.
Because we’re not getting what we deserve. Nobody who walks this earth is. Instead, we’re getting something far greater. His grace.
So, Is God Fair?
So, when I look again at Linda, my mother-in-law, I can’t say that God has been “fair” in our sense of the word. But, in her life, He has been right. And she doesn’t blame God for her husband’s unfaithfulness and the other trials she’s had to endure. Instead, she praises God for walking with her through those dark valleys and giving the grace to solider on.
Sadly, many Christians in America, walk around feeling as though they’ve been cheated. They ask questions like, “Why can’t I be healthy like others?” or “Why does God allow him or her to be married?” or “Why couldn’t have I been born into a wealthy family?”
Unfortunately, the church itself has become an unwitting accomplice in this unbiblical thought process. We’ve tried to market Christianity as the better alternative, where life will be more successful. This may be true, but we must realize that Christianity is not about benefiting and taking and getting more of what we want out of a cosmic, vending-machine God. It’s about worshipping a God who has given us far more grace than we deserve. It’s about following the example of Jesus in sacrificing for the good of others.
We should view everything we’ve got in life as a gift from God, not complain when things don’t go our way.
Because thankfully, we don’t have a God who is fair, but a Heavenly Father who is always right.
Daniel Darling is the author of Teen People of the Bible. Visit him at danieldarling.com.