(From the book Wait A Minute!)
“He leads beside still waters.” Psalm 23:2
A young pastor talked excitedly about his new ministry and the plethora of ideas running through his head. “This ministry is going to succeed,” he declared, “because I’m driven to success.”
Driven to success. Those are powerful words. When we are “driven,” someone or something else is in control, as if an invisible force pushes from behind toward an unknown destination. We might be moving forward, but we are not necessarily achieving success.
I know when I’m being “driven,” because my life suddenly feels overloaded and confusing—almost to the point of panic. People’s expectations, impulsive commitments, competition or my own pride at one time or another have pushed me to destinations God never intended. It’s difficult to slow down and catch my breath because the force behind me overpowers my ability to pray or think clearly. Life becomes more like an overwhelming tsunami instead of the “still waters” where God leads.
When scripture refers to something being “driven,” it is almost always in the context that something needed to be removed or someone was defeated. For example, God “drove out” the enemy from the Promised Land (Joshua 23:9). The Israelites were “driven back” in defeat (Joshua 8:15). The Israelites were “driven” into exile by their enemies (Amos 9:4). The demon-possessed man was “driven” by the demon (Luke 8:29). Jesus “drove out” the evil spirits (Matthew 8:16).
Hirelings who oversee the flocks are drivers. They push from behind with little concern for the sheep because they have no ownership. Jesus warned “The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away” (John 10:12). The hireling drives from the back, wielding the rod to push the sheep forward—the same rod a shepherd uses to “comfort” the sheep because of the security it represents (Psalm 23:4).
The hireling may drive the flock from behind, but the Good Shepherd leads his sheep from the front. Sometimes his leadership takes us through difficult storms where we learn to hold on to him and trust. Other times he brings us to quiet places beside still waters where we can relax and refresh. And when our lives get out of control, he “makes us” lie down in green pastures because he knows we need to slow down and rest.
What’s driving you? Stop and refocus on the leading Shepherd. You’ll find great comfort knowing he will never take you where he has not already walked.
Jesus, thank you that you don’t drive your sheep. Instead, you gently lead. I love how you slow me down enough to enjoy the still waters. If I ever challenge your judgment and retort, “You can’t make me!” please make me lie down in green pastures. And don’t let me get up until my steps are in sync with your will. Amen