“He remembered that they were but flesh,
a wind that passes and comes not again.
How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness
and grieved Him in the desert!
They tested God again and again
and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
They did not remember His power
or the day when He redeemed them from the foe,…
Then He led out His people like sheep
and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid,
but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
And He brought them to His holy land,
to the mountain which His right hand had won.
He drove out nations before them;
He apportioned them for a possession
and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.”
(Psalm 78:39-42, 52-55)
Our flesh, that weak part of our being that is naturally inclined to our selfish appetites, can be a dominant foe. It can control us and enslave us to our subtle lusts and our explicit ambitions. We trust in what we see with our eyes, but have such difficulty trusting what we know in our spirit. We lean on our own understanding, knowing that our depraved thinking leads to a path a destruction. Yet our Abba Father, in spite of our weaknesses, extends His grace.
Even when we defiantly shake our fists to the heavens in rebellion, deferring to our own self-centered desired, He extends His mercy. Even when we forget His faithfulness to His word, He remains faithful to His covenant promises to redeem His children.
We are all sheep led astray by every turn of the wind. We easily lose our way and expose ourselves to the dangers of the wolves that are ever-circling the flock. We so often find ourselves stuck in a ravine of despair, needing His shepherd’s crook to pull us out. We get stuck in the brambles and thorns of a dangerous world as we wander aimlessly following our noses.
And like the Good Shepherd that He is, He leads His sheep through the dry, barren wilderness of this natural life. He safely guides us along the paths of righteousness with His loving hand, in spite of our tendency to wander and look for our own food and drink. He protects us from the enemy and bitterly weeps when He loses one of His flock to the wolves due to our own stubbornness.
And He still calls us His sheep. He paid the price to bring us out of the market and into His promised land. He builds a shelter for us in His temple so that we might rest peacefully in Him. He drives out the opposing forces that seek to destroy His flock, even when we try so earnestly to invite them in.
What was once the barren desert of your life can become a refreshing oasis of comfort. He can and does transform our lives for the sake of His kingdom in accordance with His purposes. He apportions the land before us as He sees fit to advance His purposes. And sometimes that means we lay claim to that which He has repurposed for our good. Many times throughout Scripture, God has used the enemies of His people to provide for His people and fulfill His promises. Many times He uses the enemies of His people to chastise them and bring them to repentance for the sake of His kingdom.
In the end, He always proves faithful to His word. He always proves faithful to His promises. He always proves faithful to those whom He loves.