I find it uncanny that often the world can articulate truths about our depravity and sin, without even knowing it, much better than we who call ourselves Christians. It is so in a song by Billy Joel called "The Stranger". Here are the first lines, "Well we all have a face that we hide away forever and we take them out and show ourselves when everyone is gone..." This is a truth that we seldom hear discussed yet we all experience it. Personally, I like to put on faces during the rare moments that I am home alone that I am a great dancer. I can pretend that I can dance although the reality of that still eludes me. You get the picture. Unfortunately, these faces that we try on are often of a sinister vein as we play with the infernos of sin. I can remember another song from my early Christian days by Steve Camp that said, "Could I be called a Christian, if everybody knew, my secret thoughts and feelings and everything I do?" Let those words sink in... Could I? Could you? What are we thinking about and doing when we are alone? There are days that I must confess that this hard heart would rather choose its own way, "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love" but by His grace I can ask the Lord to, "take and seal (my heart) and seal it, seal it for thy courts above".
It is for this very reason and our many other struggles, that the Bible uses the term as shepherd in reference to God. There are many references, too many to list here, but here are a few: Psalm 23, EZ 34:12, John 10:11, 14. Ezekial 34:12 says, "For thus says the Lord God, Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out....I will seek the lost, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak..."
If we are honest, we realize that there is a battle raging in our souls. A battle that takes daily effort to just hold ground without losing all we have gained. Sin is ever present and ready, often we are not. And I do not just mean the big sins, I mean the thoughts of anger toward our spouses or children, the words that we would never say, but will think, the lack of contentment in what the Lord has given, the self pity and the envy of others just to name a few. Our hearts are a war torn region that has been devestated by the effect of sin within us. Yet, that is why we have a Savior! That is why Jesus came... to save sinners! He knew we were sick and He brings healing. He knew we were defiled and He brings righteousness. He knew our understandings were darkened, and He brings His Word to enlighten us. That is why we have a shepherd. Halelujah! What a Savior!
Today if you are tempted to play with sin, to try on a face that is of a stranger, I ask that you remember what your sin cost and turn from it. Let each of us not linger in the false ideas of being unseen, and realize that all is open before the God of all ,who sees all. Let us come to Him, our shepherd and lean upon Him. He is able!
"O thou who the shepherd of Israel art, give ear to our pray'r and thy favor impart.... No more shall we wander, delighting in shame, revive us O Lord, we will call on thy name. O Lord God of hosts, us restore to thy grace, and then we shall live in the light of thy face." ARP Psalter 80:1-3