Stuck in a Rut

As I was preparing for this week's Sunday School lesson, I came across an interesting little tidbit of information.  According to Phillip Keller's book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, "sheep will blindly, habitually, stupidly follow one another along the same little trails until they become ruts that erode into gigantic gullies."  These gullies, in turn, become hazardous opportunities for the sheep to become cast (turned upside down), which is not only uncomfortable but can also be fatal to the sheep.  This is one of the main reasons that sheep must be led to new pastures frequently.

This information reminded me of a conversation I had with my dad a couple of weeks ago.  He had called to give me some bad news concerning some ailing members of my family and some updates on how things were going with him and my mom.  At one point during the conversation, we both grew quiet.  Finally, he sighed and said, "It seems like it's always something, doesn't it?"  My eyes filled with tears as a myriad of needs and requests (both mine and those of family and friends) passed through my mind.  "Yeah, it does.  Do you ever feel like you've been in the valley so long that you've completely forgotten what the mountains look like?"  My dad admitted that he had felt that way, then encouraged me to hang in there.

What about you?  Do you ever feel like one of those sheep meandering down the same path through the same pasture (or valley) over and over again?  The scenery never changes except to offer a new obstacle for you to overcome.  Otherwise, you just keep going through the motions day after day, praying that soon the Shepherd will arrive and take you to a new pasture.  After all, you're tired of being in a rut.  You're frustrated with being cast down time and time again.  You're ready for some greener grass and smoother trails, right?

I hear you, my friend, and more than that, I'm right there with you.  I know what it's like to be stuck in a rut, to be cast down.  The good news is this:  our Shepherd cares for His sheep.  He knows where we are and what we're doing.  He also knows how we feel.  But He has a plan for each of us, and only He knows the best timing for moving us to greener pastures.  In the meantime, He asks that we trust in His love and care and follow wherever He leads. . . even if it's through the valley.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. - Psalm 42:11