A few days ago I watched an episode of the remade Upstairs, Downstairs. It’s really just a poor girl’s Downton Abbey–something to fill the time while I’m working on knitted and crocheted gifts for the baby shower I’m going to next weekend. But this morning as I was laying in bed, half-waking, half-praying, I suddenly had this picture in my mind like I was the lady of the house and I was speaking to the people I’ve hired to do my beck and call–my servants.
This picture came as an overlay to my prayer. And I suddenly realized that I wasn’t praying, I was listing a litany of requests that I wanted to have filled.
The next thought came swiftly on the first: Do I treat God as though he is my servant?
Of course, the relationship should go the other way. I should be striving in everything to serve God, my Master–which is a synonym for Lord–my leader, my guide. I am not the boss. God is the boss. I don’t even know where I’m going this afternoon; God knows every step I’ll ever take.
Yesterday afternoon, I was listening to the radio and the broadcaster was talking about sheep that live in his town. These sheep are apparenty moved from pasture to pasture around the town on a regular basis. And he said that as he was driving by the sheep he was thinking about how the Bible often compares us to sheep and Jesus or God to our shepherd. And he said, you never see one of these sheep stand up on its hind legs and tell the other sheep, “Hey, I’ve figured it all out. Follow me!” No. Instead, the sheep just sit there, mindlessly really, grazing on the good grass their shepherd took them to. They don’t even know where they are–all they know is that food has been provided for them.
If we think of ourselves as sheep under an all-loving and all-knowing shepherd, our prayer requests may come across as almost foolish. Imagine the sheep trying to tell the shepherd where it wants to go, how to get to the best pasture, the source of the water it wants to drink. The sheep doesn’t know these things. Instead, he relies fully on the shepherd to lead him and meet all his needs.
Now, this could be scary. In theory, the shepherd could be a wicked shepherd. He coud be leading the sheep to certain death just to satisfy his own evil desires. But a good shepherd would never do such a thing. Even in situations that a sheep might find confusing or frightening–like being sheared, perhaps–the shepherd knows exactly what he’s doing and why.
Praise God that he is the good shepherd. There is no wickedness or evil intent ever in the steps he lays out for us. We may stray, but he only loves us, only wants what’s truly best for us.
How much better would it be to unite myself more fully with the Father as my shepherd instead of viewing him as my equal–or worse, my servant? Why should I bother with a list of “please this” and “please that” when all I should be saying is, “thank you.” Thank you because God is the good shepherd. Thank you because even when the road seems a little rocky or the shears come close, he is leading me the right way. The good way. Thank you, because he is God, and I am not.