Our Loving Shepherd

One of the things we need most is confidence that we'll have what we need.  One of things we need least is the expectation that we'll have all we want.  As a loving Shepherd, God provides us with what we need - time for rest on green grass and quenching our thirsts by gentle streams AND God's presence, guidance and comfort as we move through dark valleys, as we are in a lifelong journey of returning to God's presence, or as we find ourselves sharing from our abundance that others may have their needs met.

Something that is more need than want is the gift of others' investment in our lives - their time and concern.  It is a necessity, not a luxury to have people care enough to leave their mark on us.  It is also a necessary part of our being fulfilled to leave our mark on others.  Rev. Hipp, who has left his mark on the Florence District these past six years and on the South Carolina Annual Conference the past forty, reminded us yesterday how important it is to be marked and to mark.

Hearing his sermon in concert with the one I preached in The Well on God being with us through our dark valleys reminded me of the many ways God makes his presence known in the easy and difficult times.  The beauty of nature contributes to our peace and healing.  Music often plays a major part in helping us through life.  But it's people who are almost always the most obvious manifestation of God's love.

You rarely have any idea what is going on in the heart, head, or home of someone you are interacting with.  For most of those interactions you'll never know.  Even so, you have the opportunity to offer a friendly smile, a kind word, a gentle gesture that might help them along the way as they traverse the valleys and peaks of this life.  Approaching others in this way may lead to, as it did for one of you recently, praying with an Uber driver.  You may well be part of what God uses to pursue his sheep with goodness and mercy.  And isn't that the kind of mark you want to leave?