THE NEW EWE

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

August 18, 2010

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

Several weeks ago I was walking into our downstairs bathroom and stubbed my little toe on the door. It hurt at the time but wasn't unbearable. My toe never did swell up and never bruised, so I really didn't think much about it. But later I noticed that the top and side of my foot were sore. For weeks it continued to ache. It didn't hurt all the time and wasn't severely painful, but it was obvious that something had happened when I hit the door with my toe. It was most noticeable if I was going up and down a ladder or stairs, was wearing tennis shoes, doing a lot of walking, or flexed my foot. I felt silly saying anything about it hurting because from all outward appearances it looked fine. And honestly, there are times even now when it still hurts.

On the other hand, a few years ago I went to a water park with a group from my sister's church. We had just arrived and a few of us went into the wave pool. My sister and I had an inner tube between us, and were sharing it with an arm hanging onto each side. For some reason, she left go of her side and the inner tube flipped over on top of me and knocked me underneath the water. The water we were in was only waist deep, but when it hit me, my foot hit the bottom of the pool; apparently pretty hard. A little later we were walking out of the pool when I looked down and my little toe was obviously broken. It was laying over to the side. By the time I got home later that afternoon the side of my foot was bruised and my little toe was severely swollen. I had to wear flip flops for a few weeks until the swelling went down and the toe healed. It was obvious to anyone who looked at my foot that my toe was broken.

There are people who we can look at and tell by their countenance that they are burdened. You can see the pain in their eyes, the slump of their shoulders as if they're carrying a heavy load, and hear it in their voice. Perhaps they lost a loved one, are dealing with a stressful family situation, have a serious illness, or lost a job or finances. Whether it's someone you know well or a complete stranger, you can obviously see that something hurtful has occurred in their life.

But there are also some who smile and carry on tirelessly, even though they're dealing with difficulties. No one can tell by looking at them or talking with them that something stressful is occurring in their life. It's easy to look at these people and judge them as having a happy, easy life. In fact, we may even look at them and think, "Wow, I wish I had their life!" It may seem that they have a loving family, dream home, perfect job and financial security. Even if we know they're going through tough times, we think of them as being super strong individuals who can handle anything. We may admire them for their strength and ability to carry on with such grace.

We go by outward appearances and often tend to think we know more about people than we actually do. But the truth is, we have no idea what someone may be dealing with until we walk a mile in their shoes. And we can't fully understand their emotions and feelings unless we've experienced something similar.

Recently I was visiting with a cousin. He too has lost both parents, like I have. He was saying how much he missed them, especially around the holidays. He commented that years ago when both parents were still living, when someone lost a mom or dad, he would tell them, "I know how you feel." But he had no idea how they really felt until his parents both passed away.

It's so easy to say words without really thinking about what we're saying. We have good intentions, but there is no real depth of feeling behind our words. We just want to comfort or make someone feel better, so we say whatever trite phrases come to mind.

My nephew's wife is involved in a group called MOPS (Mothers of PreSchoolers). A few days ago one of the ladies in her group went to wake up her 5 year old daughter. From what I understand, the girl didn't have any physical problems and hadn't been sick. She was unconscious and the mom couldn't get her to wake up. The local hospital had her transferred to the children's hospital in Little Rock, AR. By the next day, the little girl had passed away. I cannot even imagine what the parents must be going through. Jon and I don't have children, so will never know what it's like to lose a child.

Since this has happened, my nephew's wife has posted comments from the mother of this little girl. Most of them are along the line of being thankful for having her in their life for 5 years; or hearing how she had touched hearts in her short life, etc. Reading these makes a person think that the parents are handling this death like real troopers and that they are extremely strong individuals. Having the Lord in your life to lean on and bring comfort is a great source of help. But I'm sure there have been times when these parents have cried themselves to sleep. There have probably been times when they've walked into their daughter's bedroom and seen her toys and clothes lying there, and the freshness of their loss has overwhelmed them. Sometimes we see the surface and think people are handling situations with strength and courage and that they don't need us to support them. But we don't always see the hidden moments of grief.

People often let us see only what they want us to see. It may be due to them thinking they have to live up to certain expectations. Perhaps it's because people have commented in the past about them being strong and able to handle anything, so they feel they have to always let people see that side of them. Maybe they are afraid of being thought of as weak, if they allow others to see them cry or show emotion. So they put on a facade in order to hide the reality of what is really inside their heart.

But it goes beyond hiding emotions. Psalm 44:21b states that God knows the secrets of the heart. People can deceive others in many different ways. They may be indulging in sinful acts and are afraid they'll be caught, so they may try to make someone else look bad in order to get attention off themselves. I've seen this happen over and over in the church. Someone will begin taking up old sinful ways that they may have given up, and they feel guilty for their actions. Many times they'll go to other people in the church and say the pastor or/and his wife have mistreated them or said something negative to them. They try and get pity, and a lot of times end up getting people disgruntled and upset with the pastor. But they don't know the whole story. All they know is what someone is telling them. And they're being taken in by lies and deceit.

There is a woman who was healed of a horrible debilitating disease several years ago. She was in a wheelchair and almost blind and God miraculously healed her in a Sunday evening service. She and her family were actively involved in church afterwards. But over time she has gradually slipped back into old habits and began finding excuses to not attend church. She and the pastor's wife took turns driving the church van to pick kids up on Sunday mornings. It got to the point where the pastor's wife had to call her every time it was her turn to see whether or not she was coming, because she was not dependable and never on time. One time the lady showed up in her pajamas, then went back home after she dropped the kids off. That was unethical and not a good witness to the van kids. The pastor's wife began driving the van herself. But without explanation, the woman told someone in the church that the pastor's wife just took over picking up the kids and wouldn't let her do it anymore. Thankfully that person went to the pastor's wife and asked if that was true, instead of believing what they'd been told. Later the woman showed up at a special outdoor service the church was having wearing very inappropriate attire and smoking a cigarette. It was almost as if she was daring someone to say something to her about her dress and actions, so she could say they were judging. She knew what she's doing was wrong, and wanted to justify her actions. And the best way to do that was to point her finger at someone within the church and try to cast blame.

Many times, hidden sinful actions will eventually come to the surface and be revealed. It may take awhile and a lot of people may be hurt during the process, but the day will come when their true character will be shown.

1 Samuel 16 tells the story of God sending Samuel to Jesse's home to anoint the next king after Saul. Jesse's sons were all brought before him, except for the youngest one, David, who was tending sheep. When Samuel saw Eliab he thought surely the Lord's anointed was standing before him. Apparently he had the appearance of someone who would command attention and be a great leader. But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

Saul had been anointed as Israel's first king. 1 Samuel 9:2 gives a description of Saul when he was chosen as king. [Speaking of Saul's father] "And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From the shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people."

Sounds like he was one good-looking dude! Someone who would command attention and be a real leader. Yet over time, Saul's sin separated him from God, and God eventually rejected him as king of Israel. It didn't matter what his outward appearance looked like, God saw what was in his heart. At the time that David was anointed to succeed Saul, I'm sure there were many citizens of Israel who didn't recognize the seriousness of Saul's actions. They may have thought, "Well he did make a mistake, but we all mess up from time to time." And I'm sure there were still many followers and supporters of Saul, even when he continued to dishonor God and make huge errors. It was many years before David actually began his reign as king. And during those years, Saul allowed his true heart to show through and his real character to be revealed. But even then, there were probably still a few who supported and loved him.

So remember the lesson of my little toe! The first break was very obvious and everyone could see that something was wrong. But the second time when I stubbed my toe, whatever happened remained hidden and there was no physical outward sign that anything had happened. It didn't meant that it hurt any less than it did the first time, it just wasn't apparent.

Whether it's hidden or secret sin that someone is trying to cover up, or if it's grief or some other emotion that someone is experiencing, we don't always know what is in the heart of an individual. Whether we can or cannot see it doesn't make it any less real. We may all be deceived by someone during our lifetime, but we need to be as discerning as possible so that it doesn't become a habit. We also need to be careful that we don't put ourselves in the position to be the judge of others.

Key is Matthew 7:1. "Judge not, that you be not judged."

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

When we visited Mount Rushmore, we walked through a museum with some old pictures and descriptions of the construction process. There was a slice of an old tree there. It doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the displays, but it was interesting. If all you saw was the bark, it would be very uninteresting. But under the surface, you could see about 200 years of the tree's history. There were deep scars, burns, and diseases. Sometimes around ten to twenty rings of growth had a gap where the tree was burned or damaged, and slowly grew back. There were also years of rapid growth.

Thankfully, God doesn't have to cut us down to see the rings inside.

BIBLE TRIVIA QUESTIONS:

      1. What king sent for Sarah to take her as his wife, believing she was Abraham's sister?

      2. What king died after seeing the handwriting on the wall?

      3. King Ahasuerus took Mordecai's cousin as his wife. What was her name?

      4. Who was Saul's wife?

      5. Who was the king that said of God, "He delivers and rescues, and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions:"

ON THE MENEWE:

Homemade Salsa

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

10 leaves cilantro

7 jalapeno slices (either fresh or canned)

2 Tbsp. chopped onions

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until blended to your likeness.

BIBLE TRIVIA ANSWERS:

  1. Abimelech (Genesis 20:1-3)

  2. Belshazzar (Daniel 5:30)

  3. Esther 2:17

  4. Ahinoam (1 Samuel 14:49,50)

  5. Darius (Daniel 6:27,28)

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Test all things; hold fast what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org