Saturday, January 23, 2010

His Pasture

Psalm 100:3 Know that the Lord, He is God; It is who has made us and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

God uses many words to describe His relationship with us. We are called His children [1], people [2], possession [3], treasure [4], bride [5] and more. But one of the most common metaphors in both Old and New Testaments is that we are His sheep [6] and when He calls us by that name, the Bible often adds that we are kept within His pasture [7].

I don’t know a lot about sheep, but I do know pastures. I owned several when I lived on the ranch and as I think of being His sheep, the idea of dwelling in His pasture strikes a deep chord.

A pasture is by definition a portion of ground with boundaries where livestock are confided by fences or even sharp-toothed dogs whose sole purpose is to make sure the animals stay where they are supposed to be. My animals, like all others, liked to roam, but I ignored their fleeting wants. They were stuck within the boundaries I designated whether they liked it or not. I knew what was best and fences were not an option.

One of the curious things about livestock is they seem to have a built-in need to know where the fences are. If I bought a new animal or changed pastures with ones that had been under my care for years, the first thing they did was walk the fence. I’d open the bars of the trailer and they would stumble into the light blinking at the freedom of a new place. They might pause briefly or perhaps take a few bites of grass, but it wouldn’t be long until they started off in a straight line and walked until they could go no further.

Once they found the limit, they would push and examine and taste until they knew exactly what kind of barrier held them. Then, they would walk again, circumventing the entire pasture while pausing now and again to test the fence. Was there a hole they could squeeze through? If they leaned against it, did it stand? Did the barbed wire hurt too much if they pushed against it?

Eventually, convince that the fence could not be breached, they would settle down and become part of the heard. When that happened, they were finally in a position to enjoy the bounty I had provided.

The idea of a pasture is one way I find comfort when life throws a up barrier. I just think about being in the Lord’s pasture. Not that it is always comfortable and I don’t occasionally long for grass on the other side of the fence, but I know who owns the place where I live and spend my days. This is not a haphazard chunk of extra ground. It doesn’t belong to Satan. And, it doesn’t belong to the sheep. This pasture was allotted to me, personally. It belongs to a Shepherd who is kind and holds my best interest close to His heart.

[1] Ps.82:6; John 21:5
[2] Exodus 6:7; Luke 1:68
[3] Ephesians 1:14
[4] Matthew 13:44
[5] Revelation 21:2
[6] Psalm 78:52; John 10:14
[7] Psalm 74:1; 79:13; 95:7; 100:3; Jeremiah 23:1; Ezekiel 34:31; John 10:9

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