God will never allow our faithfulness to be fruitless. There is power in simply being available. We never know who we might notice when we aren’t busy looking at the to-do list for the day or hustling from one place to another.
It starts with making the next right choice; seeking to honor God in the mundane as well as in the extravagant. We also have to be willing to see the hurting people around us and then do what we can to meet their needs. It might be as simple as being a listening ear or shoulder to cry on. And because everyone is met with discouraging messages day in and day out, we should never underestimate the power of encouraging words.
If we love as followers of Christ are meant to, our world becomes a much bigger place. Full of life giving energy, empowered by the Holy Spirit. To have that we need to be open to dialogue, willing to pray for and over others, ready to share why we believe the things we believe, and looking for ways to lend a hand. We can know that every encouraging word, every prayer, every act of service, and every time we make time for others, will be used for other’s good and God’s glory.
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit…” Who do you know that needs to hear they’re loved? Who could use a helping hand? Who needs to be noticed? Who needs to see Jesus?
Can I stand still in the face of uncertainty? In the face of possible tragedy? If there was a good chance that my world was about to fall apart, could I be still? Most of my life so far has answered with a resounding no. But that doesn’t have to continue to be my story. Nor does it have to be yours.
When the people of Israel faced the looming annihilation from Pharaoh at the sea, they were told to stand and see the salvation of the Lord. When the disciples were falling apart in the middle of a raging sea, Jesus awoke and questioned their little faith.
It’s so easy, even for the heart devoted to Jesus, to be overwhelmed in the face of very real danger. It’s in those moments we either need others to remind us, or we need to remind ourselves, that Jesus is in the midst of the danger. He’s there in the pillar of fire. He’s there in the boat. He’s there. You’re not alone, and most likely you don’t need to do anything other than be still. He’s still the same God that parts the sea and calms the sea.
“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
The Bible talks a lot about sin. I think that may be one reason some avoid reading it. It’s a mirror into the soul. Before entering the temple or tabernacle, priests or levites would wash in a basin at the entrance. They could see their reflection in the water as their filth wash away before walking through the veil. The word of God is a lot like that. Sometimes referred to as a double edged sword, it cuts deep at our imperfections in order to show us just how much we are in need of grace.
In Romans chapter eight, Paul talks about life in the Spirit. He paints the picture of these two warring powers: the flesh and the spirit. When our minds are set on the flesh, trying to please the flesh, we cannot please God. Sin becomes the dominant force. The sin of pride, lust, coveting, stinginess, selfishness, gossip, people pleasing, deceitfulness, and all the like. These things produce death. They have stench and rottenness that spill over to others and infect them with the like. Sin is idolatry, and it needs to be rooted out and destroyed before it destroys us.
Our darling sin must die. Spare it not for its much crying. Strike, though it be as dear as an Isaac. Strike, for God struck at sin when it was laid upon his own Son. With stern unflinching purpose must you condemn to death that sin which was once the idol of your heart. Do you ask how you are to accomplish this? Jesus will be your power. You have grace to overcome sin given you in the covenant of grace; you have strength to win the victory in the crusade against inward lusts, because Christ Jesus has promised to be with you even unto the end. If you would triumph over darkness, set yourself in the presence of the Sun of Righteousness. There is no place so well adapted for the discovery of sin, and recovery from its power and guilt, as the immediate presence of God.
Life in Jesus is the only response to our sin. He is the cure and the sanctifier. He leads us towards truth. He gives us a glimpse of our deepest needs and then He fills them. In the presence of Jesus we see our sin all the more clearly and then we see them washed away by the overwhelming love He shows us. As Spurgeon said, our darling sin must die. So lets allow Jesus to remake us and cast the death blow to each and every one.
The story of Jesus feeding the five thousand appears in all four of the gospel renditions. It had to be an event that all four authors wanted to empathize. No doubt it was a miracle of epic proportions.
In giving the people physical bread, Jesus showed that he was the compassionate provider that his people needed. By doing such a miraculous feet, Jesus showed that nothing was too big for Him to provide. Through this miracle, Jesus fulfilled more than physical needs, he demonstrated the expectation of those looking forward to a new prophet after Moses. Thinking back to the journey from Egypt to promised land, while Moses was their prophet-leader, the Israelites received manna from heaven. Jesus’ provision of bread here parallels the miracle that the Israelites experienced under Moses. The major contrast: Jesus Himself provides the bread.
Jesus can tell us to ask for our daily bread to be provided, because He is the source. And this is much more than an application to our physical needs. Jesus said that “man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from the word of God. (Matt 4:4).” Not only is Jesus referred to as the bread of life (John 6:48), but he is also called the word of God become flesh (John 1:1-14). As the Bread and as the Word, Jesus is all we need for life itself both physically and spiritually.
In reading Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus reminds us that God’s care for His creation is steadfast. Flowers are arrayed in beauty and birds and fed. His desire is for us to have all we need as well. He knows how to provide for us. We just need to open up our eyes and hearts to receive it. Not only can Jesus multiply anything to provide for our needs, He may just ask for our basket of bread and fish to multiply for the needs of others.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9 ESV
The Dictionary definition of a priest is one especially consecrated to the service of a divinity and through whom worship, prayer, sacrifice, or other service is offered to the object of worship. He acts as an ambassador, a chosen vehicle through whom Yahweh God has chosen to serve the people and represent Him, on His behalf. It may be hard to think of yourself (if you’re a follower of Jesus) as a priest. For many, a priest is a specific position held within the church. That’s not how Jesus commissioned it. Everyone who claims allegiance to Christ is a member of the royal priesthood. Just quoting the bible like that could have gotten you executed 500 years ago, by none other than church leadership. And that’s because people have distorted and forfeited the priesthood since the beginning.
Here are a few examples from history of forfeited priesthoods:
1-Adam and Eve in the garden. The two were the first ordained priests in God’s created order. However, they took knowledge for themselves rather than relying on God’s wisdom to govern their decisions. The result was sin and exile.
2-Moses at the burning bush and at the rock. He allowed insecurities to keep him from the call of God. Moses argued with God when he first received the mission to return to Egypt. So Aaron became the voice. During the wandering in the desert, at the rock, Moses failed to give God credit for bringing forth water so he lost out on the promised land.
3-Aaron and the golden calf. He allowed the people to sway him rather than trusting in God. He didn’t lead in faithfulness, instead he followed in the peoples unfaithfulness.
4-David with Bathsheba. David was not exactly a priest but he was one who was to reflect the priestly king. However, he allowed his own selfish and lustful desires to cloud his judgement which led him into sin. He and Israel both paid the price for it.
5-The Pharisees as white washed tombs full of dead men’s bones. Jesus’ rebuked the Pharisees for failing at leading Israel. They were blind guides, led by their own self promotion and control. Jesus pointed out how they clothes themselves with godliness but inward they were corrupt.
So what does it mean for us as Christians to be a part of a royal priesthood?
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 ESV
We can fill the role of priest through doing good. Good works, while not a means of salvation, do act as a means of demonstrating salvation. Without goodness and kindness, one should definitely question the genuineness of their faith.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Philippians 2:14-16 ESV
We can also be faithful to the priesthood through godly speech. Circumstances don’t dictate a Christians sense of peace. Complaining is what the world does. Speaking hope and love and peace and truth is what followers of Jesus do. Oswald Chambers said that you could measure one’s faith by how content they are. Contentment and complaining cannot coexist.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV
One great way to be a priest, and often overlooked, is through purity. The world is perverted. So much so that purity is a foreign concept. Since our bodies are His temple, we should be very careful how we use it. Imagine getting drunk in God’s temple, or being sexually immoral in God’s temple. It’s un fathomable. We should be looking at ourselves in the same fashion.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
The one overarching thing we can do is to make it all about Jesus. If He is our mission, then our words, actions, and decisions will follow suit.
As a royal priesthood, we should learn the lessons from those who have gone before us. You and I have a holy calling on our lives. Parents are priests of their home. Employees are priests of their workplace. We are all priests in the world. No one can fill your role as priest. Nor should we want that. The world needs to be led and worship. It needs to see people fully surrendered to a higher calling.
Last night at church I was really taking stock of my life in terms of my walk of faith. I caught myself going through the motions during the singing portion of the gathering, constantly distracted by my almost three year old son. I was catching most of what the message was but couldn’t stay locked in for the need of baby wipes, cleaning up messes, and making sure my son didn’t break all his colored pencils. It all got me thinking about just how much I’m investing in my relationship with Jesus. I had to ask myself if He was my number one relationship and priority. The journey of self reflection led me back to a study I did a long time ago based on a book by Francis Chan called Crazy Love. In the book, he outlines what the Bible (Jesus specifically) calls a lookwarm believer. Keep in mind, Jesus makes no room for lukewarm faith. He says it’s worse than no faith at all. They are among those who Christ says, “depart from me I never knew you.” It’s not a category I want to be in. And it’s a good jumping off point for a good inward dive into the motivations of our heart. If you’ve never seen the book I’ve included an outline of the main indicators that our faith may not be as genuine as we thought.
A lukewarm believer may…
Attend church because they believe it is expected of them. (Isaiah 29:13)
Give money only when it doesn’t infringe on their standard of living. (1 Chronicles 21:24)
Tend to choose what is popular rather than what is right. (Luke 6:26)
Don’t want to be saved from their sin, just saved from the penalty of sin. (Romans 6:1-2)
Moved by stories of others doing radical things for Christ yet do not act themselves. (James 1:22)
Rarely share their faith with friends, coworkers, and strangers out of failure of rejection. (Matthew 10:32-33)
Gauge how “good” they are by not being “as bad” as the rest of the secular world. (Luke 18:11-12)
Say they love Jesus but only allow Him to have a part of their life. (Luke 9:57-62)
Can’t really say they love God with ALL their hearts, minds, and souls. (Matthew 22:37-38)
Love others but do not seek to love them as much as themselves. (Matthew 5:43-47)
Serve God and others but place limits on how far they will go. (Luke18:21-25)
Think about the temporary, the life here on earth, far more than eternity in heaven. (Colossians 3:2, Phil 3:18-20)
Thankful for the luxuries and comforts that God has given them but do not think about giving away as much as they can to the needy. (Matthew 25:40)
Try to be “good enough” so that they do not have to feel guilty. (Matthew 13:44-46)
Try to play it safe and be in control of their life rather than surrendering it to God. (1 Tim 6:17-18)
Feel safe just because they confess their belief in Christ with their mouths even though their actions do not match up. (Matthew 7:21)
Structure their life so they don’t have to be in reliance on God. (Luke 12:16-21)Aren’t that different from nonbelievers in speech and in conduct. (Matthew 33:25-28)
Live in Christ…Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.
Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.
Matthew 26:13 ESV
Days before Jesus would go to the cross, an extravagant act of love would be shown towards Him. The perfume poured out on Jesus’ head in this story was astoundingly precious; made, according to the Gospels of Mark and John, from pure nard, which comes from a plant that only grows in the Himalayas 3,500 miles from Israel.
Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table.
Matthew 26:6-7 ESV
The value of this gift was an entire year’s wages. It doesn’t matter where we are on the income scale, if we gave away something worth everything we would make in a year, we would feel it. What she did was amazing no matter how we look at it. When the disciples were discussing with Jesus about feeding the 5000 people in the crowd, they stated that it would take about 200 denarii to accomplish this. That’s only 2/3 of the value of this gift! The extravagance is breathtaking. The whole house must have been filled with its fragrance. Jesus’ body may still have been carrying hints of this very scent upon the cross.
And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me.
Matthew 26:9-10 ESV
Not everyone is going to appreciate the sacrifices we make for Jesus. Some may even ridicule us. In those moments we have to remind ourselves who and why we’re making the sacrifices in the first place. Sacrificial living is contrary to our fallen human nature. It goes against the self centered cultures of the world. But it’s how Jesus Himself lived. It’s how he beckons His followers to live. What is the most valuable thing I could pour out upon Jesus today, tomorrow, and the rest of my life?
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
This post is inspired by a recent story I read from the Voice of the Martyrs. As usual, I read it at an opportune time. God ordained moments. I hope that this story inspires you as well.
We pick in Romania, many years ago, during an era of extreme persecution towards Christians. A man by the name of Florea had been arrested simply for his faith in Christ. As a follower of Jesus, it was important for him to honor the Sabbath. However, that was problematic, for prisoners did not get a day of rest. They were required to work, every day. Florea stood his ground on his convictions and refused to work. I would love to say that the prison guards honored his faith and passion and made an exception for him. But communism makes no room for Jesus or his followers. So a stand for Jesus meant extreme repercussions.
The Romanian prisoners were forced to labor every day, but each Sabbath Florea refused. For his refusal, the guards routinely beat him so bad he lost the use of his arms and legs. He could only move his head. Because he could no longer labor, Florea was forced to sit in his cell all day long. He had to rely on other prisoners to feed him. In spite of his situation, Florea was not downcast. When other prisoners would complain about their situation, Florea would encourage them. “If the outlook is bad,” he would say, “try the ‘uplook.’ When Stephen was stoned, he looked up and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. This comforted Stephen’s heart, and it will comfort yours too.” He encouraged his fellow prisoners not to “look out” to their circumstances but to “look up” at Jesus. One of Florea’s fellow prisoners was Richard Wurmbrand, who was released from the prison and found Florea’s nine-year-old son. He told him what a blessing his father had been in prison. The boy smiled and replied, “I would like to become a sufferer and encourager for Christ as my father has been.”
Voice of the Martyrs
There are no guarantees of circumstances, even for the Christian. We are not promised a nice home, a perfect family, good health, or a living wage. Instead, a Christian is a person with a certain attitude toward any and all circumstances. A person’s attitude makes the difference, regardless of circumstances. A heavenly attitude focuses on God’s presence amid trials. Fixating on our hardships distracts us from a heavenly outlook. We feel burdened. Depressed. Hopeless. Fearful. In contrast, a godly outlook on our troubles brings confidence that God is at work. We relax in God’s presence, waiting to see how he will work out our concerns. Are you undergoing a trial right now? Are you focused on the waves crashing around you or Jesus walking on the water towards you? Let’s stop focusing on the outlook and give the uplook a try.
This is a look at the last public teaching that Jesus gave before going to the cross. He did this, like usual, through the use of parables. And in many cases, Jesus used multiple parables to teach the same principle. He did this with the parables of the lost coin, lost sheep, and the prodigal son. We see Him doing it again with another trifecta of parables. In your Bible they are probably labeled as the parables of the 10 virgins, the talents, and the sheep and goats. Before we start breaking these down, let’s take a little more look into the context of these teachings.
As I mentioned before, this is the last public message that Jesus taught before the last supper and his eventual betrayal in the Garden. Jesus delivers them following His return to Jerusalem. Starting back in chapter 21, Jesus goes into the temple and cleanses it from the ungodly practices of all the Passover vendors. After leaving, He would return to the temple in order to address the leaders and religious members of society. This is where He called out the hypocrisy of the teachers and pharisees of Israel and warned the people not to follow in their example. Once again, Jesus leaves the temple and begins His discourse on the end of the age. Also referred to as the “end times” or “second coming”. It is at this point that Jesus delivers these three connected stories.
In each illustration, Jesus divides people into one of two groups. There’s the Wise Virgins and the foolish virgins in the first parable He teaches. In the second, people are divided into the Good and Faithful Servants or the Wicked and Lazy Servant. And in the last parable He teaches the two divisions are the Sheep and the Goats. Let’s look at the distinction between them now.
1-Prepared vs unprepared: The wise virgins had enough oil. They were fully prepared and anticipated meeting the bridegroom. Same with the Good and Faithful Servants, who did the work and invested their effort to bring a profit to their existence that would please the master. For the sheep, Jesus provides specific examples of what it looks like to be prepared for His arrival, and how we can invest our faith to benefit others for His glory. They all included looking for the needs in others and doing our part to fill them. We have an abundance of hurting and broken people around us. We don’t have to look too far to find someone in need, physical or emotional. To be prepared is to live like Jesus did. To seek the lost and to give our lives away for the benefit of others. Oil is often used as a representation of the Holy Spirit. To be prepared then is to be filled with the Spirit and to live according to the spirit.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6 ESV
2-Active vs. inactive: One key distinction between those who are looking for the return of Christ is how active they are. Life can easily get in the way but Jesus doesn’t take that as an excuse. No matter how busy we are, we are meant to do “everything” unto the Lord. Whether in word or deed. Family, work, hobbies…they shouldn’t get in our way of doing the things of the Lord, they should be all about doing the things of the Lord. That doesn’t mean we have to all be preachers, but we should all be preaching the gospel through our way of life and our words. We display Jesus at home, at work, and at play.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 ESV
3-Bigger mission vs. self-centered mission: The wicked and lazy servant operated out of fear. The foolish virgins cared more about the load they carried and their convenience rather than being prepared. The Goats were doing everything to promote their own religiosity. God knows when we do things for Him and when we do things to promote ourselves. Jesus said to let our lights shine before men so that they will see them and glorify God in heaven. But so many do things so that they themselves will be glorified on earth. Fear won’t be an excuse. Convenience won’t be an excuse. And self-glorification certainly won’t be an excuse.
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24 ESV
4-A knowledge of Jesus vs. not really knowing Him: Paul said to live as wise and not as unwise, knowing the things that are pleasing to the Lord. Jesus wants us to be watching for Him and investing our lives in the lives of others. He wants us to live in a manner that points others in His directions. We all need to live less for ourselves and more for Him. Jesus tells each of the people in the negative category that He does not know them. Those are fearful words that none of us should ever want to hear. We all need to live for the future hope by leaving the best possible legacy now. We all need to pick up our cross and follow Him. He has made it possible for us to know Him. The question is, are we walking full on into His invitation?
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV
What is the overall purpose of these last few parables that Jesus teaches us? What is Jesus trying to get us to see? I believe He wants to leave us with a clear message of how to be prepared for His eventual return. These words are a gift to us. It’s His final reminder before He departs. It reminds me of the farewell address given by Moses at the conclusion of giving the law and before he went up the mountain with God to die. Laid before us is life and death. Jesus’ use of contrast imagery drives home the same message. The world’s only divided into two groups of people: those who know Him and those who don’t. In the end, that is all that will matter. Our socioeconomic status doesn’t matter. Nor does our bucket list. Our career path, net income, and accomplishments all fade away in light of what Jesus is really looking for in you and me. He wants to know us and be known by us.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28 ESV
He entreats us all to take the time to listen. Hear His voice calling you by name, telling you that you are loved, inviting you into His pasture, into the abundant way of life. Listen to the good shepherd guide you to the life of love and legacy.
One of the hardest things people have to learn is that we can’t, nor should we, make it through life on our own. This is especially hard for the independent sort (me among them) who have picked up self reliance and self motivation as the sources of making their way through the world. But everyone battles with this. It’s as old as the garden of Eden. The original sin itself was rooted in a desire to become like God…to take control of one’s life and make a way for oneself. No one likes to feel like they lack sufficiency. But we all do. And that is okay. In fact, we are designed that way.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
John 10:10-11 ESV
Our lives are a mix of lies and truths that we believe and set out to construct our framework of viewing reality. There are two very real opposing forces that want to help in our journey to understand both our place in this world and our very identity as humans. On one hand, there is the message that we can make it on our own. We too can become like God. Life is about “getting mine” and pursuing my every desire, regardless of the wake I leave behind. It’s about me being whoever I choose to be and truth being subjective to whatever I want to believe. It’s a message that promotes the best life now, with a heavy focus on materialism and self promotion. Ultimately, its a message that leads to pain, stress, frustration, loss, and the actual death of who we were created to be.
There is another message. One that promotes surrender. One that says the source of life doesn’t begin and end with you. That joy and meaning aren’t found within us, they are bestowed to us. It’s a message that keeps us rooted in where we came from and where we’re headed. It’s a message that helps us rise above all the striving and self centeredness that the world promotes. It’s a message that says our life is meant to be spent in the betterment of those around us…that wealth and prosperity are not found in bank accounts but in the lives we touch.
It may not seem this simple to many. But it really is. Life is about making choices. And those choices lead to life or death, in us and those around us.
When we separate ourselves from our source of knowledge, peace, joy, love, grace, power, etc…we are going to feel hollow and empty. No matter how hard we work, or how much we make, or how many likes and followers we get, none of it will satisfy. It’s not meant to. The more we try and make it through life without needing anyone else, the more we’ll veer off course.
The Bible gives us a somewhat unflattering comparison. We are like sheep. Animals that are extremely dependent on both the guidance and protection of their shepherd. Those who don’t follow the shepherd end up getting lost and most likely consumed by predators. But we are sheep with a shepherd Who wants to give us the pastures with the greenest grass and purest water. And only He knows where they are. A problem enters when the sheep think they know where better pastures are and promote their interests above the rest of the flock.
“”For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.”
Ezekiel 34:11-16 ESV
Not only is it okay to need Jesus, we actually need to need Him. He is the source of our life and the only place we will find true life. Even those of us who have ventured off course through self reliance, Jesus is pursuing us. Life is knocking at the door. And that life has a name. Some of us who have been following Jesus most of our lives can even fall susceptible to wandering away from their flock and their Shepherd.
“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.”
Matthew 18:12-13 ESV
Life is too hard to try and make it on our own or in our own way. We need to learn to let go and allow our Good Shepherd to lead us to the good pastures and the still waters. Because in all of our striving, we will never find them apart from Him.