Many references are made throughout the Bible about sheep and about the Lord being the Good Shepherd. There is the famous Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” John 10:14: “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep.” John 10:27: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”
In the United States we understand the reference but it’s rare to see a sheep other than in a petting zoo! On a recent choir trip to Scotland and England, the Bible verses literally came to life along the roadside, pastures and hills.
Throughout the British Isles sheep are a main fixture of the landscape.
Traveling from Manchester, England to Edinburgh, Scotland by motor coach, our tour guide pointed out a flock of sheep that started moving very suddenly. Up until that time, the sheep were either grazing or resting, they were never on the move. He explained to us that when one sheep started to move, that first sheep became the leader and the other sheep would follow. It was really quite amazing to watch. Right in the middle of eating some grass, they saw the leader and took off.
How often do we lose sight of our inner knowing and being guided by God and take off in another direction lead by another voice? It happens all of the time. Jeremiah 50:3 says, “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have lead them astray.”
We can always get back on track. I Peter 2:25: “For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
Listening to the voice of our true Leader and Shepherd means being still and getting quiet. Meditation is a great way to learn how to be still. If you’ve never practiced meditation, it is a powerful practice to quiet the mind.
Are other voices leading you astray, or are you being lead in the right direction? Your true Shepherd is always there to listen and to lead.
I haven’t posted on my blog in a while because I decided to unplug myself from the computer. Initially, it was a tough decision to make. But in my quest to slow down and live in the present moment, I chose not to take my laptop with me on a choir tour to Scotland and England. I did, however, take my camera and a journal.
This was the final day of our trip, singing in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England.
Bill Stein, our wonderful Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church in Kirkwood, Missouri, orchestrated this trip for our choir to sing at some of the most magnificent cathedrals in the world.
Here’s a small sample of our tour. It was wonderful to worship with others across the world and to experience the splendor of these exquisite structures that were built to the glory of God.
This is the Outside of St. Paul’s.
This is Winchester Cathedral (yes, the song was about this cathedral) – Winchester has the longest Nave (principal area of the church) in the United Kingdom.
Coventry Cathedral was the only cathedral that was damaged during World War II. The cathedral was almost completely destroyed during the Blitz. A modern cathedral was built connected to the remains of the old cathedral. After seeing the devastation, the minister of the church said a prayer, “Father Forgive.” These words are in the ruins as well as the new cathedral. Two cross beams had burned and fallen in the shape of a cross. The beams are on display in the new Coventry Cathedral with a replica outside where the beams were originally found.
York Minster Cathedral
Singing at York Minister. Seeing the choir in this huge space will give you an idea of the size. The sound in these cathedrals was amazing. When we finished a powerful song the sound reverberated throughout the space for several seconds.
York Minster has the most glass of any cathedral. During World War II all of the glass was removed and hidden in the countryside to protect it.
This is just a piece of Durham Cathedral. It was impossible to get a view of the entire structure. There were no pictures allowed inside. The columns were 22 feet round. It was the first of the large cathedrals on our tour.
This is a view from the top of the tower.
St. Giles is in Edinburgh, Scotland and is the birthplace of the Presbyterian Church. This was our first stop and was very special.
Our director, Bill Stein, had the opportunity to play the pipe organ shown here. He is an incredible musician and the music filled the entire space.
Every cathedral had a place to reflect in prayer and to light a candle. I took an opportunity to light a candle and say a prayer in each space.
This trip was not only a gift in having a wonderful experience but it gave me the gift of how important it is to live in the present moment. It was the first trip that I have ever taken where I forgot what day or time it was. I wasn’t worried or thinking about anything else but being present in each moment.
It’s taken me a while to adjust to getting back into the routine of life. The reason, perhaps, is not wanting life to be routine. To be continued…..
Don’t you just love fairy tales and the promise of happily ever after?
Robert and I just saw the Disney movie, Tangled. It’s the story about Rapunzel, the princess who was taken from her parents as a baby and held captive in a tower until her eighteenth birthday. Along comes Flynn Rider, a dashing, handsome bandit on the run who finds the tower escaping from the guards that were chasing him. Rapunzel schemes to use Flynn to carry out her dream of leaving the tower for a day to visit the source of the lights that she sees every year on her birthday.
As with every Disney movie, good triumphs over evil, dreams are fulfilled and there is always a happy ending with the guarantee of life happily ever after.
Real life isn’t depicted after the closing credits. There is no sequel – Tangled 2 – tangled in bills, making ends meet, and finding energy to remain close long after the relationship begins. Of course, princesses may not have to worry about such concerns. The majority of us have many stressors in “real” live.
Like Rapunzel, we do our own escaping by being entertained for a few hours lost in dreams of fantasy free from worry.
But I got to thinking about happy endings and happily ever after and thought that as Christians, we know the end of our story. We have a happily ever after.
Two of my favorite Bible verses are Psalm 121:3 & 4 – He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Stated simply, God’s door is always open.
If you’ve never stopped to think how important you are to God, think about this. We have access to God, the Creator of the Universe, 24-7. In business terms, let’s just say that God is the CEO of everything.
Have you tried to get through to a CEO? It’s not easy. There are gatekeepers all along the way. You might have something valuable to say, a good business proposition to offer, but you may never reach the decision maker because of all of the people down the ladder that block access to their door. When we fail to receive a response after multiple attempts, we usually assume that we aren’t important enough to warrant a response.
We have instant access to God twenty-four hours a day. We don’t have to go through a gatekeeper. He’s there ready to listen because we are important to him. We can receive help from God 24-7.
Almost every night when the house is dark and quiet and I lay my head on my pillow, I acknowledge that no matter how late it is, God is there. I find myself going over the happenings of the day with him and asking him for help in areas where I need it. I also remember others who have needs and express those concerns. Most of all, I am grateful to know that while the world sleeps, God is there watching over us.