You know that saying that you want something “so bad you can taste it”? That’s me. I have this propensity to get so caught up in my hopes and dreams that this is all I can see, think about, or want. I often pushed aside my relationship with Christ. Whenever we would talk about laying our hopes and dreams at His feet in the lectures or in the study, I would always say, “Okay, Lord, take my dreams.” The next day I would wake up and act like I never said that. It was never an idea I would stick to or be intentional about. There was a time, in the not so distant past, when I would really up my communication with Him if I was praying for a job or crying out for provision to be made for me. I would tell myself, “You are going to do better today, you asked the Lord for something, and now you need to talk to Him more.”

For so long, I wanted to experience something other than opening myself up to Him and letting Him take up residence. For so long, my title mattered, what car I drove, what house I lived in. I wanted to taste the success and get praise from the world. I tried to have my feet set in two different places: (1) in the world and (2) walking with Christ. You can’t do both. You are tricking yourself if you believe you can walk in both. This was so me. And because I wasn’t finding exactly what I wanted in walking with Christ, like a child, I was constantly looking elsewhere. Oh! I struggle with this so badly. This can be set right next to anger as far as major weaknesses in my walk with Christ. I love what Laurie said in her lecture this past Tuesday: “Everything IN the world promises to fill the void.” You will always feel unsatisfied, you will always feel like you are “in search of something deeper.” I have experienced this.

But now I have come to a place where I surrender to Him. I don’t want to run anymore, I don’t want to chase after the world. I want to sit at his feet. I honestly just want to rest there. I can now truly say with Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.”

Realizing that His heart is tender towards me and patiently waiting for me, coupled with walking in faith to truly believe that, has been life altering these last couple of weeks. Exodus 34:6 describes God as, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” These are the very attributes of God that have allowed me to have chance after chance to come to this point where I am right now. It was a paradigm shift in how I see Him. The fact that His grace is personally granted by Him to work on my behalf was a huge deal for me. In mercy He allowed me to struggle through this, to turn my back, and to question Him without giving up on me and without giving me the wrath I so deserved. This is unconditional, transcending, divine love that only God can give. So, I will in His strength patiently kneel in this throne room and offer up my sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise. In my flesh do I still have the urge to go in search of what I want? Yes. But this time my adoration, thanks, and love for my Father outweighs it all.

All for His Glory


Before Jesus saved us it is a biblical truth that we were following the course of the world and the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2). Psalm 1 shows us this truth as well. We walked according to the counsel of the wicked, which then caused us to stand in the way of sinners and finally to sit in the seat of scoffers. The enemy was our shepherd, our master.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:4-5). Jesus is now our Good Shepherd. We were lost, and our loving Shepherd went looking for us and found us. He rescued us from danger and brought us into His flock. “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

We were lost and now we are found; blind and now we see; deaf and now we hear; dead and now we live in Christ. What will our RESPONSE be to the amazing gift of our salvation?

We are to listen to our Shepherd’s voice in His Word and follow Him humbly by grace through faith. But how do we do this?

There is one point the Lord continues to bring to my mind from our last study, Fearless. It’s from the story in Genesis 45. Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery. There was a famine in the land, and they had to go to Egypt to get food, and Pharaoh had put Joseph in charge, but the brothers didn’t recognize him. When he revealed himself to them it says, “But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence” (Gen. 45:3b). I looked up the word “dismayed” and found that the English definition means “agitation of mind; to break down the courage of completely, as by sudden danger or trouble; dishearten thoroughly.” They were terrified, I am sure, because Joseph knew they had tried to kill him, and they knew they were guilty and deserving of punishment.

But the next verse is so beautiful, pointing us forward to the mercy and grace that was to come through Jesus! “So Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come near to me, please'” (Gen. 45:4). “Come near…” These are the words I continue to hear.

I have lived my whole life in fear. Fear of everything. Fear of man, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of pain, fear of being out of control, fear of intimacy, etc. Because of this fear I can see how I have built walls of self-protection around my heart. In my mind’s eye I have this picture of a tortoise (because I’m slow) always retreating and withdrawing into my protective shell. And my Shepherd continues to call me to “come near.” To come out of the darkness and into the light of His love.

Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. (Song of Sol. 2:10-11)

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matt. 11:28-30)

I dearly loved the image of the frightened child who calls out to her parent in the night when the thunderstorm comes. Visuals are so helpful for us to be able to see and grasp onto truths that we otherwise lose hold of, especially in the heat of battle! And what happens when the parent comes to the child’s room and gathers the child in their arms, bringing them close to their heart, drawing them near? The child is comforted, and as Laurie said, becomes, “completely calm.” Why? Because the child trusts her parent and believes her parent loves her.

I confess to you that I am not “completely calm.” I confess to you that I am not even sort of calm. The Lord has been showing me these past few months (maybe even the past year) that I live in fear. I walk around anxious and worried. I live “dismayed” with “agitation of mind.” Our Shepherd doesn’t want us to live this way. He wants me to come near, to trust Him, to rest in His arms and be completely calm.

Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Josh. 1:9)

Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid. (Matt. 14:27)

You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. (Psa. 139:5)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psa. 23:4)

If our response is to come near and to follow, how do we do that? Jesus is the Living Word. We draw near when we spend time with Him in His Word. His Word is the green pasture. We feed on it and shelter in it. His Word is the still water. We find our refreshment there and wash ourselves in the water of His Word.

As children, we purposefully sit at the feet of our Father. Instead of walking and standing first, which is what we used to do, we first take time in the mornings to sit. Sit in His Word. Be intentional. Take in the truth. Receive it, feast upon it, meditate on it, choose to believe it by faith, and take it to our hearts and apply it. Then, we can stand in His strength. Then we can walk in His strength by His grace. Not alone, but with the Spirit and in the Spirit. Our Shepherd never leaves us. He is with us by His Spirit. Praise God! We are never alone!

Ultimately, I am so thankful that all the Lord commands us to do, He provides and undertakes for us. He tells me to come near and yet He is the One who brings me near. “Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts!” (Psa. 65:4a).

And what will one day be the result as we continue by grace through faith following our Shepherd? “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isa. 26:3).

The Lord is our Shepherd. We shall not be in want but instead be completely calm.

Learning to Live in the Garden of Grace