Being Led

 

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Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV

The text came early on Sunday morning that our dear friend, my husband’s best friend from early childhood, had stepped over into eternity. He, who was a farmer for all of his life, understood what it meant to lead and to be led. So, as the cancer had ravaged his body, he told my husband a week ago that he was so ready to follow Jesus into Heaven.

As we stood around his bedside at the hospice center, our prayers stirred up longings in my own heart, and renewed a conviction that I had been offering to the Lord this summer:

Am I ready to follow You Jesus? Will I let You lead me wherever You ask?

I’ve been reading a collection of books this summer, not realizing how connected they each were until I heard the Lord place that question before me.  The book that drew them all together was given to me by another dear friend, Lisa Brittain.  Although we’ve never met in person, we’ve shared beautiful prayer times with the Beloved Prodigal Team, and our dear friend, Anna Smit.  Lisa felt that I would enjoy Phillip Keller’s classic, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.

I’ve wanted to read that book for years, and it has not disappointed.  Sheep are truly fascinating, and I can understand so much more clearly why Jesus calls us the “sheep of His pasture,” and Himself, “The Good Shepherd.”  In fact, there are so many similarities between sheep and people that the parallels almost seem endless!  However, it was the chapter on being led that touched me in so many ways, as the author, a shepherd himself, described how sheep want to find their own pasture, and resist the shepherd leading them.  Although most sheep will eventually follow their shepherd, as they learn to trust him, there are still some sheep who resist and try to stay in their own ways.  He goes on to say:

“The stubborn, self-willed, proud, self-sufficient sheep that persists in pursuing its old paths and grazing on its old polluted ground will end up a bag of bones on ruined land.”   (A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by W. Phillip Keller, page 89.)

Even though that word “self-sufficient” jumped out at me, surely, I thought, I am not that resistant am I?  And then came these words:

“We don’t want to deny ourselves, give up our right to make our own decisions–we don’t want to follow; we don’t want to be led.

“Of course, most of us, if confronted with this charge, would deny it. We would assert vehemently that we are ‘led of the Lord.’ We would insist that we would follow wherever He leads. We sing songs to this effect and give mental assent to the idea.” (pg. 90.)

Ouch.  The words struck home a few weeks ago when my friend Anna wrote me that she sensed she was supposed to share about the new thing that God had been birthing in our lives.  As we had been facing the dying time of Beloved Prodigal (see her post here, and my post here,) we both had sensed the Lord leading us on to a resurrection of the book we had been working on, and a new venture into podcasting to give voice to the words God had given us.

Out the window went my strong words about being led of the Lord, when I found myself thinking, “NO!  We cannot share that yet! I am not ready! What if I cannot do what God has asked?  How could He be asking me to share about that?”  And that ugly polluted bag-o-bones reared its ugly head in me.

As I sat before the Lord, those other books that I had been reading all summer suddenly flowed together with such a beautiful theme:  being led by the Lord to share what He had done, through those dark valleys, was such a gift to be given away.

The first book was a personal testimony by Kitty Foth-Regner Heaven Without Her, of how she had laid down her old way of atheism, and embraced the gift of grace offered by Jesus. Kitty faced the death of her Mother with deep questions that could only be answered by the truth of the Gospel, and the unfailing Word of God.  She was willing to be led by the Great Good Shepherd, and shared her own story through the pages of her beautiful book.

The next book was about a lifelong friendship that began in an unlikely place, between a Christian counselor, and the woman who sought help when her life of brokenness became unbearable.  Bring Me a Vision, by Pam Ecrement and Becky Moreland, is a story of redemption that did not happen overnight, but over a long process as hearts were shared, and the great Shepherd drew in one of His lost sheep. Pam, as the counselor, was willing to be led of the Lord as she took the risk of loving and caring for a heart that seemed shattered beyond repair. Becky found such deep and beautiful purpose for her life, and the lives of her children, as she gave over her fears and her hurts into the hands of our Great Lord who would make all things new.

And the last book that I just finished this week, Still Waiting, by Ann Swindell is the story of someone who has prayed for healing for decades, but is still waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled.  In the process of waiting for healing, she has found that the deeper soul-healing of grace is the much more precious gift. She took the risk of being vulnerable with her “unfinished” story, and shared about the precious Life that Jesus offers as we lay down our own notions of how life must proceed.

My answer to Anna ultimately became that “yes,” that I knew I wanted to give to my Good Shepherd. I want to be led by Him, and continue walking forward into the New Life that He has planned.  Even as the future looks uncertain to me, and I cannot see the green pastures ahead, I know that Jesus will provide the direction that I need.  He will lead His lamb into those pastures of LIFE that He knows are best.

 

So, weeks later after that surrender to be led by my Shepherd,  we stood around the bedside of our friend.  As I looked back on a life lived with such fullness, and I as I felt the tug of the utter vastness of Eternity, my heart was overwhelmed with the shortness of this life! This photo was taken over 30 years ago, but feels like yesterday to me, as I remember the joyful moments we shared with our friend:

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1982, our friend playing dress-up with our young son, Joel.

 

When our Shepherd calls us, will we let Him lead us on the good path? Will we open our hearts to trust that He truly does see the Beautiful Eternity that He has in mind for us?

 

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

 

 

 

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for being such a beautiful shepherd for us. We admit that we are lost without you–our best efforts to find good pasture only lead us to barrenness. So, Lord we come before You now and ask for Your direction and guidance. We want to follow You. Thank You that You have chosen the best path for us, and we can take JOY in Your purposes for us. Thank You that You have set eternity in our hearts, and we are on the journey that will lead us to our final home in Heaven with You. We lift our voices to praise Your great name. You are the Shepherd of our hearts.

In Your precious name we pray,

Amen.

 

 

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29 thoughts on “Being Led

  1. Dear Bettie, It’s always a little scary to start a new venture and we can often think it’s too hard and why would God want us to even try. But then we remember that He is powerful and capable of taking our small offerings and multiplying them reaching the people He will bring. A podcast sounds a little intimidating to me, but that’s because it’s something new. Maybe it’s not as hard as we might think.

    I like that you reference Phillip Keller’s book. I don’t think I have read it but I have read his “A Child’s Look at the 23rd Psalm” which we used in our devotions when my kids were younger. It was great!

    I will be praying for you as you continue to search your heart and follow God’s leading. I pray that I, too, will be willing to follow wherever He leads even if it seems hard.

    Blessings and love to you, my dear sister! May God comfort you and your husband as you grieve the loss of your friend and at the same time know he is alive and well with Jesus. xoxo

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Dear Gayl,
      Thank you for all of your supportive comments and your precious prayers. You bring such encouragement to me, knowing that we are not walking this path alone! I think that sometimes the enemy plays on our fears by making us feel alone in the new ventures, when actually you are so right, that God is calling us each forward into the NEW that He has for us!

      Oh, that child’s devotional from Phillip Keller’s book sounds so good. There are so many object lessons that he teaches from, even in the adult book. I am sure those would hit home so well in family devotions!

      And I am so very grateful for your prayers and love during our trip to visit our friend. I know that we would not have been able to make it without them. I could feel those prayers as such gifts of grace all around us. Hugs and Love to you my dear friend. xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Condolences on your loss. Friends are hard to come by, especially good friends and lifelong friends. Thank you for this beautifully written post. I have read the book by Keller many years ago and I still have it. I may reread it. Wonderful look at being led by the Lord. It is my prayer, too, for I have not always completed my assignments. I needed this post so much. A great sermon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet and caring thoughts. Even as we rejoice that we will see our friend in Heaven, it still is hard to miss him here on this earth. Yes, I think Keller’s book is one that can be appreciated through multiple readings, at different times in life. I know there are things that are hitting me now, that would have affected me very differently in the past. Isn’t that just like our Lord? I am so thankful that He encouraged you here today. Blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good afternoon my dear sister Bettie, I am sorry for your loss. Our lives are brief compared to eternity. Seems Our Lord is doing a new thing in you and Anna! How wonder-full. As I slowly return to blogging and social media, I want to keep up with His amazing work in your life. I am most confident reading your post today was supposed to happen. Thank you for your humility and transparency, Bettie. This post is a blessing to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Julie,
      I am so glad that God brought you encouragement here today. I appreciate your loving thoughts and prayers so much! I am sure that the Lord will be bringing beautiful fruit from your time away, of resting with Him. I have found that happens after my times away with Him. Without my even realizing it, He brings up hidden fruit that I could not see until He called me away. I am praying for you dear sister as you slowly re-enter blogging. May you feel the Good Shepherd guiding you each step! Blessings and love to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a beautiful post. And I love Phillip Keller’s book. I read it years ago. Your post has me wanting to find my copy and read it again. Thanks for sharing your heart. And I am sorry about your husband’s friend. Prayers for you all and his family.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry for the loss of your friend Bettie. Losing a friend is not easy–the loss of loved ones is not easy period! But it is God’s voice that leads us home, isn’t it? I want to be surrendering to Him more, and letting go of my own agenda. Thanks for this beautifully written and encouraging post on following God’s leading. Blessings on your next ventures. I’m grateful to already be a part of there beginning.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Lynn, Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement! I love your words that “it is God’s voice that leads us home.” Oh, so very precious to rest in that thought of listening for His voice. He will carry us through every step forward. And thank you for your support as Anna and I keep following Him into His purposes. Blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Melissa,
      Yes, I agree that so often we get wrapped up in our days here, and it seems they will always go on the same way. But truly, the time is short, and eternity will call each of us into His heart. Thank you for your sweet comments here today. Blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Life is so precious, isn’t it? I think those moments God lets us see how thin the veil truly is sparks an even greater yearning to see Him face to face and spurs us on through our fears to shine the Light He has given us.

    I am so thankful He is so patient with me too, His stubborn sheep. Oh how I have not wanted to go where He has been leading me. I am so glad He has given us each other, Bettie. Your pressing into Jesus encourages me to do the same.

    I know you cannot wait to see all those loved ones who have gone before you. But I am thankful God has kept you here with us – you are shining His light so brightly. Love you xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Anna,
      Oh thank you for your sweet and loving prayers. They mean so much to me. And what a gift the Lord has given us to be able to share and point each other to Him. He is waiting for us to pause and rest with Him there. I love the ways that He knows exactly what we need to hear each moment. Sometimes just one word is all it takes for those of us, His stubborn sheep, to prick our ears and finally understand the beauty of His way forward. He meets us in the middle of our fears, doesn’t He? Not pushing us aside, or ignoring those hard areas, but lifting us to see how He can make the way open where all has seemed impossible. And yes, my heart does so long to be with Him and so many loved ones up there, but He holds my days in His hands, and I want to trust Him here too. Love you my dear friend! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so sorry for the loss of your husband’s and your friend, Bettie. May God strengthen and comfort you both, also your friend’s family. Thank you for sharing and for these encouraging thoughts to trust our Shepherd and His way. It can be frightening when we can’t see the way before us, can’t it? Love and hugs to you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh Trudy, thank you for your sweet love and support here. My heart remains so full, to overflowing, with thankfulness to the Lord for enabling us to be with our friend in his last moments here. Jesus truly is our Good Shepherd, and has the best in mind, even when it does feel frightening! I am so glad that He understands and calls so gently for us to follow. Love and hugs to you my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, Bettie! I am SO sorry for your deep loss! He looks so young and vibrant and healthy in the picture taken so long ago. It is so incredibly sad to see a life come to an end. I know this is not the end, but the pain of separation is so hard, and it is so hard to think that a life that has meant so much to us will no longer exist here on earth. The finality is devastating. Life goes by so quickly, and it seems as we look back on pictures of younger, healthier, happier days that we shouldn’t be as old as we are. May God bless and comfort your hearts as you grieve for your friend. It is so wonderful to see how God is opening new doors for you, my friend, and I know He has amazing plans to use the deep lessons He is continually teaching you. Sending love and hugs your way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Cheryl,
      Yes, that finality of separation on this earth is so hard. I cannot imagine how we would bear it if we did not have the hope that our Lord has given us! I have been so aware of how swiftly the time does go by, and how brief our time here is. How I want to follow my Good Shepherd through these days that He has allotted to me, for His good purposes! I am thankful that we can pray for each other through the trials that we walk through. Blessings, love and hugs to you my dear friend!

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  9. Dear Bettie, you take us on a painful journey of uncertainty and loss here, which also places a great emphasis on new life and rebirth. Our courage and confidence to face such things really does rest on how willing we are to be led by the Great Shepherd of our souls. I’m so sorry for the loss of your dear friend, but grateful you were able to have precious moments with him towards the end. And I’m always happy to see you stretching yourself creatively, albeit with tentative steps as you place your faith and trust in God. Because I sense you have so much to share with us, a lot of deep things still hidden under the surface, waiting their time to be unearthed. God is leading you (and Anna) to pastures new. But you have the joy and hope of His constant presence with you and the knowledge you are fulfilling His will. Blessings, love and gentle hugs. xoxo ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Joy,
      Thank you for your dear love & concern as we have walked through such loss this week. I love the way that you have expressed that courage and confidence will come as we are willing to be led by our Shepherd. He does teach us how to trust Him, by the ways that He asks us to be led, doesn’t He? He grows our courage for us. How precious. And I so appreciate the ways that you have been so supportive of my stretching those creative limbs. You have encouraged me in ways that I don’t think you can realize. God has surely used you and your words to nudge me into His pastures so many times. May I let Him lead me forward here in this place now. I pray that He blesses you deeply this week my friend! Love & Gentle Hugs to you also! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Ah yes, it’s something many of us struggle with is, isn’t it – surrendering. We already know deep down intuitively that being led by Him is the best way forward, but we are so stubborn, aren’t we. Love the old bag of bones analogy. Really nice post Bettie. We may follow different paths, but we are still heading towards His Beautiful Eternity. Anita.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind thoughts Anita. I am so thankful that our Lord holds our lives in His hands. He truly does know how to help us to surrender to Him. And, yes, I appreciated that analogy that Keller made of the bag of bones stubborn sheep. He has such a beautiful way of seeing the truth in the everyday. Blessings to you!

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