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narrow paths

One more lesson from Ray Vander Laan’s faith lesson Walking with God in the Desert (see my previous post).

Vander Laan referred to the sheep paths along the hillside as the “straight paths” or the “paths of righteousness.”

I saw Jesus’ “narrow road” in his Sermon on the Mount.

"straight paths" on a Negev hillside

“straight paths” on a Negev hillside

This is a narrow path.

And the hillside is covered with them.

Vander Laan observes that these sheep paths or ruts have been worn into the hillside over countless years of sheep being led across it. All these parallel paths are cut into the hillside, each spaced with just enough room for sheep to feed above or below it as the shepherd leads them along it.

He didn’t make the point, but the video suddenly became 3D and leapt out at me right off the screen, no glasses required.

"my sheep hear my voice"

“my sheep hear my voice”

The sheep are not marching lock step, single file all along the same path with the shepherd out in front (and a master at arms bringing up the rear). Sort of the way I see Sunday School kids being led to and from the sanctuary forming (literally) one long single line. No. The shepherdess leads the sheep all in the same direction, but along parallel paths up and down the entire hillside. And there are “green pastures” enough for all.

 

How far you want to expand this metaphor is up to you.

How simple and clear cut is single file.

How easy to control.

How naturally inclined we are towards it.narrow path_2

But the sheep walk all over the hillside on different but parallel paths, each finding what it needs along the way, the tuft here and the tuft there, the one shepherdess walking before them all, the sound of Her voice the only beacon necessary, the only control called for.

Now there’s a picture to ponder a bit.

I’ll never see that “narrow road” in quite the same way…

narrow path

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in musings, Psalms, Videos

 

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green pastures

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.

Anyway.

Green pastures.

That was the surprising epiphany for us all from week six of the journey.

the first image that came up when I binged "green pastures"

the first image that came up when I binged “green pastures”

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,

"green pastures" in the Negev

“green pastures” in the Negev

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

"green pasture." and that's a mouthful...

“green pasture.” and that’s a mouthful…

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.

green pastures_4

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2013 in Faith, musings, Psalms, Videos

 

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