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. -Psalm 23
My husband and I went to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Park over the weekend. The rainy haze didn’t dampen the majesty nor the impact this moment in time had on me. These aren’t wild horses, but still, I was taken by how at home they were in their pasture, happily grazing away at the portion given to them.
Notice the fence in the foreground? It seems more decorative than functional against those strong beasts. I wonder if they know they can easily jump over or easily run through. Actually, maybe just a strong leaning up against is all that’s needed to break free to other pastures not of this fold.
Do you have a leaning child? One who longingly looks to the supposedly greener pastures elsewhere? The limit pusher, the one with the chocolate ice cream in one hand but crying for a cracker. too? Do you have a fence jumper, currently in someone else’s pasture, living the large life, if only in her own mind? Somewhere an 18 year old says, ‘well, mom, dad, it’s been fun, but I’m outta here, done with your rules and constraints and family dinners, and that God of yours, and the love that you give me that makes me uncomfortable because I still don’t feel worthy. Somewhere there’s a 9 year old who keeps running away because his survival brain tells him that the vulnerability of being loved and held accountable in a family is too scary: the memory of having only self to rely on before he met you is still too strong a pull.
If we’re able, we drag them back and re-build the fences. But even in the building project, we have but one real choice that gives the most impact on them: live our pasture life with real purpose, answering the unspoken question they ask, ‘is it really that wonderful in your pasture?’ Maybe the time for talk is over. Maybe now we show them by our own walk that the things they think are only out there have been here all along. Safety, love, family, belonging, a God who see and redeems, adventure, happiness, joy, peace. Have you been mending fences with the wrong materials of judgement, offense, bitterness, anger , rejection? I have. But that doesn’t leave space for God to work in them or in me. And for those children for whom we can no longer drag back to our pasture, what can we show them about our good land when they sneak a look back from time to time?
Sometimes I need to ask myself, how much leaning am *I* doing in God’s pasture?
*This post was inspired by the book Reckless Faith: a 40-day journey to saying yes, by Beth Guckenberger and by God’s beautiful creation as experienced last weekend.