On the 12th of June, 2019, I hosted a few ladies from the TLB tribe to another hangout this year. It was amazing.
Since then, there’s been one thing that has been pressing on my heart to share with you.
It’s from one of the exercises we had at the hangout where I had written down different topics on small pieces of paper and made each lady present select one and talk briefly about it. The topics were broadly diverse, ranging from a topic like ‘my ideal guy’ to ‘trusting God’, and though each session was very enlightening, one topic particularly stood out for me. It was the one my friend, Ayomide Oso had selected and the topic had simply read; Fear.
Ayomide started from the fear she considered rather trivial – how she is always so afraid to walk on pedestrian bridges because she thinks she might fall. When she said this, we all laughed, especially at the part where she described how hysterical she could get if someone should mistakenly touch her while she is on the bridge. Then she delved into the big fear – the fear of the unknown, where you really do not know what the future holds, yet, you have all these plans and dreams for yourself. She said something about being afraid to look back at her life at 40, only to realize she had been doing the wrong things all along.
As she described this fear, I realized that I had it too. It’s that fear that comes with not being able to fathom what is going to happen tomorrow. Would I have been established at 30? Would I have gotten my dream 2nd degree? Where would I be working? How much would I be making? Would I have found the right person?
For me, this fear comes in once in a while; say maybe on particular days when I am just bored, tired, unmotivated or drained from not having spoken to God in a while. Other times, it could come from seeing what others are doing with their lives or simply remembering certain experiences that have happened in particular areas of mine. Either way, when it comes, it’s always with that feeling of ‘I hope I don’t miss this thing,’ and then the questions of ‘how do I figure out the right things to do?’, ‘what is the next step?’, ‘how would these dreams even get to come to pass?’, and so on like that.
I have realized that as human beings, our minds are very limited in scope, as compared to how God thinks and works. This means that if I want something – could be a beautiful marriage one day but I have only recently experienced a painful break-up – even if God says ‘I know the thoughts I have for you. Good thoughts, to give you a good future’, my mind would still sometimes get in the way of that; and I would be afraid of how everything might turn out. Why? because my mind is directly clouded by the experience in front of me. The same goes for believing for a masters’ degree in one of the Ivy League schools outside Nigeria when I know in my heart I can’t even afford a plane ticket.
But what have I been learning lately, on dealing with this fear when it comes in? A lot actually and today, I’d like to share one of those things with you. This one is an assurance that came to me recently in the place of prayer and it’s the same thing I shared with the ladies at the hangout.
Amazingly, it’s a scripture that we all know. We just do not pay so much attention to it, thanks to our Sunday school teachers who made us memorize the whole thing when we were children. Either that or we still do not ask the Holy Spirit for insight into the verses we read in the Bible, because when I read this scripture again, I was blown away that it had such profound meaning and I have found myself going back to it over and over again for a reassurance on that future that I cannot see.
Now, what does the scripture say? It says:
1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…
Yes! it’s Psalm 23! I know! but I want you to read this carefully, especially if you are in that place where you are unsure of what is next or you are afraid of how the things you see for yourself might come to be.
That first verse says ‘The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.’ Now, the first question – who is a shepherd? A shepherd is someone who tends, feeds and guards a Herd of Sheep. He is someone whose primary responsibility is his sheep – to ensure that his sheep are safe, fed and well taken care of. That is his job. It is not the responsibility of the Sheep to keep themselves safe or feed themselves or lead themselves. As long as they are in the herd, under the leadership and watch of the shepherd, the Shepherd does all that work for them.
If the Lord is my shepherd then, what does it mean? It means the Lord has taken responsibility for me. Everything that has to do with my feeding, my protection, the direction I’m to go, the things I’m to do next, it’s on him. As long as I’m in the herd; as long as I’m under His watch, all that work falls on Him. I am His priority and like a sheep, my job is to simply follow.
The next verses give credence to what happens when I follow Him.
2. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters…
I love these verses because they show me that as my shepherd, God is very intentional about giving me the best. He leads me to places where the grasses are lush and green, not brown, not whithered – so that I can be fed and be at peace.
3. He restores my soul; for His name’s sake…
This next verse is my absolute favorite in the whole chapter because it reveals why God does all these for me. Why has God taken personal and absolute responsibility for me? Why is He carrying my matter on His head? Why is He leading me? The answer is here. He does all these for Himself; for the sake of His name. That’s all.
It’s not because I’m deserving or anything. It’s not because I’m pretty or perfect. It’s not because I’m the most knowledgeable or qualified. No. It’s simply because of Him. ‘Like?! Who takes care of someone just because?!’
4. Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for God is with me…
This verse is another favorite. It shows me that things might not always be rosy. That sometimes, even as my shepherd is leading, I might find myself in situations that would make me cry or afraid or question if indeed God is leading me. I mean? How can I have a shepherd who is God, who leads me beside still waters and still find myself walking through the valley of the shadow of death? Like, God? Did we miss a turn?
But no, it happens. The assurance here, however, is that no matter the circumstances I am in, my shepherd is always with me. And because my shepherd is always with me, I won’t be afraid.
5. He prepares a table before me; in the presence of my enemies…
For this verse, at the hangout, I asked the ladies to declare it replacing ‘enemies’ with whatsoever it is that makes them afraid. For instance, He prepares a table before me in the presence of Sickle Cell Anemia. Or He prepares a table before me in the presence of my interviewer at the British embassy, or He prepares a table in the presence of my fear of getting married someday to the right person, etc.
We did this because this verse shows us that no matter what our fears are, God has already gone ahead to prepare the grounds for where He is taking us.
I’m going to stop here. I mean, the other verses in that scripture go to show me how God has anointed me; how goodness and mercy will always follow me for as long as I live and I will always, always abide in presence of my shepherd.
Now, are there still situations in front of me that may cause me to be afraid? Yes. But my confidence now is in knowing that I am not alone; that I’m being led; that regardless of whatever the situation is, as long as I’m in the herd, my shepherd has got my back. That is my confidence and one of the many reasons why I am not afraid of a future I cannot see.
The same goes for you too. Whatever it is that might be causing your heart to be afraid – you are yet to get a good job; school is so hard; you don’t have money; you are almost 30 and not in a relationship yet; you are nowhere near where you see yourself and worse, every other person’s life seems to be moving forward; you are unsure of what’s coming next? – whatever it is, I want to remind you today that the Lord is your shepherd and as long as you are with Him, you will not miss it.
This is what I shared with the ladies of the TLB tribe and this is the same thing I’m sharing with you too. I hope this post encouraged you, somehow. If it did, don’t forget to talk to me in the comments. I’d love to hear from you too.
Till later, with love,
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