part of the crowd
“Troubled and helpless,” is the description that resonates with many of us today. That is how Jesus saw the crowd, according to Matthew, and was moved with compassion. Are we also feeling like sheep without a shepherd? That leadership has failed us. I see us, sheep milling around in confusion, unable to make decisions or know which way to go.
What is the good news when we are feeling lost, perhaps abandoned? I am listening, Jesus. We need your compassion. We need to hear again how your kingdom is good news. We need your healing and your teaching.
The Lord is my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
he keeps me alive.
Psalm 23:1-3a (CEB)
I’m leaning in. Listening to the birds. Watering. When in doubt, plant a tree. Or two or three. I search for a quote I don’t quite recall and come across Ten Reasons Why Planting a Tree is an Act of Faith.
I count the trees I’ve planted this year. Seven. Evergreens of various types. Acts of faith, each one, and I’m probably not done. (Shh, don’t tell Jubal ;). I realize this is a privilege. My yard is on the gratitude list I started this morning. Also the Mahomet Aquifer. I think of friends who have recently lost loved ones, how planting a tree can be an active part of the grieving process.
Jesus shifted metaphors quickly. From sheep to fields, from shepherds to workers. Sometimes we are like the disciples, trained to teach and heal. Other times we are part of the crowd needing compassion. Sometimes we are the trees, replanted by streams of water. Other times we are the gardeners, sowing seeds and gathering the harvest.
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for the sake of His name. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:3b-4 (NASB)
It seems like the paths of righteousness should not go through the darkest valleys where death overshadows and evil lurks. But they do. Sometimes we hear Jesus’ voice, “Do not fear.” We feel his presence and comfort. We are not alone in the darkest of valleys. Often we need each other to shine the light, to hold our hand, to be the presence of Jesus with us. The words of the Servant Song echo in my ears:
I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the night time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you;
Speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping.
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through.
I have to acknowledge that sometimes we are more the cause of each other’s pain than the ones who bring relief. We hurt each other inadvertently with words and actions, done and left undone. And still we desire healing and repair.
In your mercy, Lord, hear our prayers.
May we walk and work and weep and laugh again together. Come, Lord Jesus.