Joy & Sheep

by Sheri Reaves

Psalm 100:3
“Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”

Psalm 5:11
“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.”
We are his people and the sheep of his pasture. That sounds like a recipe for JOY. A Good Shepherd, green pastures, still waters...  uh oh, wait a minute. Pandemic, civil unrest, social divide, fires, hurricanes, YIKES. How are the sheep doing now?? Anxious sheep are not joyful sheep. When sheep are scared, some will run to their flock. Others might do any of the following: freeze and stop moving forward, panic and scatter, shiver, exhibit vocalizing and foot stomping, or stare forward with ears pricked up. Sound familiar?

Ouch. I think I’ve done all of those in the past few months.

When we are weighed down with concerns and worries, it’s difficult to experience joy. Joy comes from being in touch with the truth that God is always with us and loves us deeply no matter what. He cares about what we care about.

Sheep are not beasts of burden and neither are we. (When was the last time you saw a caravan of sheep carting goods along the trade routes?) When you find yourself getting anxious and overwrought, picture yourself as a little sheep with a heavy load several feet high strapped onto your back. You’re trying to follow the good shepherd to a green pasture, but you can barely lift your head to see which direction he’s going. His voice grows faint. You’re thirsty, and exhausted! The flock is moving ahead toward still waters but you can barely walk. You're ready to collapse. This is ba-a-a-ad.

Yes, we may behave a lot like sheep, but we are also created just a little lower than the angels (Ps 8:5, Heb 2:7). Unlike sheep, we have the ability to offload our burdens and give them to Jesus.  This is an act of will. Our joy is at stake here. We can keep bearing those burdens and wonder what others mean when they talk about joy. Or we give Him our cares. And give them again the next day. And the next. After a while, something will happen, usually something small. And it will bring joy to our hearts, if only for a second. Yet, it signals that the grace of joy is once again active in our lives.


Is there a load you’re carrying right now that you were never meant to?


Take that burden and journal your prayer of telling God all about it. Then give it to Him, signed and dated. Refer back to this prayer whenever you are tempted to strap that worry back on.