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The story is told of a pastor who joined a Kiwanis club. Not long after, the club’s membership secretary spoke to him. “I have a problem,” the man said. “It is the rule of the club to have only one representative from each profession. We already have someone listed as a pastor. But I do have a vacancy for hog-caller. Could I list you that way?” The pastor said, “Well, usually I have been called a shepherd. But you know your people best.” Hog-callers don’t find a noteworthy place in the Bible. But in ancient Israel, shepherds were an important part of the economic scene, the social scene, and the religious scene. Adam’s son, Abel, was a shepherd. Abraham was a shepherd. So were Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and David. But the most important shepherd spoken about in scripture is God Himself.
In 2013, Robert Morgan wrote a book titled The Lord is My Shepherd: Resting in the Peace and Power of Psalm 23. In the prologue of that book, Morgan wrote that “many of us are far too busy. The stresses of life wear us down . . . and the noise around us can be an unending cacophony of confusion.” As a result, he says “our lives – with all our electronic tethers, emotional entanglements, and financial pressures – are more demanding than ever. [So] we’re simply not resting, not managing our clocks and calendars as we’d like, and are [therefore] often anxious and angry, even when we don’t realize it.” As we continue looking at the ways God seeks to raise us up to new levels of life in Him this Easter season, the words of the 23rd psalm can help us however.
In a Chicken Soup book, Sandy Smith wrote how going to go to college was a big deal because her father passed away a few years earlier, and they were not wealthy when he was still alive. But through her mother’s sacrifices, she and her siblings were not only cared for, she was still able go to college. To make her feel like an adult, her mother even let her drive them when she moved into her dorm room that first fall. As Sandy drove, her mother asked if she had any gum. That request shocked her, however, because Sandy had never seen her mother chew gum. Never. Ever. In all 18 years of her life. And she was then downright stunned when her mother took the pack of gum out of her purse and said “Oh, honey, this is my favorite gum. Even when I was a child, I always loved this gum.” As she watched her mother joyfully chew the gum, Sandy wrote that she just had to ask what the deal was with the gum, saying “how did I not know that you chewed gum?”
I had a great opening for this sermon when I originally wrote it. But something happened. While I was researching fear, it got in my head. I started thinking about fear. It made me really take stock of my life and especially how I let my fears control me, even guiding me when making certain decisions. I’ve always said that I am as much an audience to my sermons as those who are listening to it. This sermon got more personal than I wanted it to…