I meant to write this six months ago.
Last year our Tuesday night group journeyed together through volume 12 of Ray Vander Laan’s That The World May Know video series. Love them all, but this was one of the better entries in the series: Walking With God in the Desert. Vander Laan takes us through the desert of the Negev in Israel exploring seven faith lessons of navigating the hard times, the desert experiences of life.
It’s worth watching, wherever you are coming from.
That was the surprising epiphany for us all from week six of the journey.
What do you think of when you picture “green pastures” as in “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me to lie down in green pastures…”? If you’re like me, you immediately envision a boundless field of belly-deep alfalfa. So much green you could get lost in it. Kauai green. Yes, Kauai! Lush. Boundless. Ahhhh.
As Vander Laan observes, does that sound like your experience with God? with life?
Shepherds in Israel rarely lead their sheep to lie down in rich farmland.
They take them, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did, into the desert landscape of the Negev. In the Negev, green pasture is that tuft of grass, right over there. You see, on certain rocky, rugged hillsides, what moisture there is accumulates around rocks, seeps underneath and results in the occasional green sprout. From a distance, green pasture looks like a barren,
dead hillside. Think the Boise foothills at the height of summer’s heat. I’ll never forget the feeling when flying back from Kauai a few years ago, looking out that airplane window and seeing…brown. Everywhere. “Dear Lord,” I gasped audibly. “Everything is dead.”
Yeah. Green pastures are like that.
The first time Vander Laan saw sheep grazing on one of those Negev hillsides, he thought, “What are they doing? Are they rock-eating goats or what?”
But as the shepherd leads, she leads (in the video it’s two shepherdesses we observe) with her voice, walking in front, along a hillside with little tufts scattered all along the way. Each tuft a mouthful. And a mouthful is all that’s needed. In ten minutes there’ll be another
mouthful. Ten minutes after that, another. And if there isn’t, the shepherd is still there. She’ll lead the way to another tuft or two on another hillside.
One of Vander Laan’s desert companions once observed, “You westerners have it all wrong (now there’s an epiphany). You deal with tomorrow’s problems on today’s pasture. Can you handle what life will throw at you in the next ten minutes? You don’t know. But you have a mouthful right now. And you’re with the shepherd.”
And that’s enough.