Worked myself into a frazzled frenzy and tangled mess attempting to find the next job to support my single self.  Feels like ADHD of job search bouncing between a thousand interests and directions. Subscribe to virtual job sites, gravitate to low paying care giving jobs because…well I don’t know why but maybe I am just scared.  Contacted everyone I know and how many times have they been through this with me.  Posted it on Facebook and after a solid week of searching I want to dig a hole and get in.

a lot of what nobody wants

I am after all now 60 and I have found I possess a lot of what nobody wants.  I also don’t seem to have what the jobs require.  My friends are all retiring after sticking it out for 20 and 30 years.  Continually told by those who know me that I have been blessed with so many gifts.  I just need ONE place to use them.

I went to my church picnic on a beautiful Saturday afternoon thinking all the while I really needed to be at home continuing the search knowing full well I don’t seem to have any of what job seekers are seeking.  And before this small group of Jesus followers, I once again humbled myself to ask for help.  They are amazing and pour forth such love and concern.  They offered prayers in a language that spoke directly to the Almighty God of the Universe which produced many tears and profoundly touched my heart.  Everyone had a thought but the one that resonated most was the story of the sheep who was cast.

sheep herding 101

20170813_095522You may not know this about sheep but when they get a little lazy or a little too comfy in their everyday world of grazing, they lay down.  If they burrow into a soft spot on the ground, it is pretty easy to end up on their back with feet outstretched heavenward.  Problem is, this is life threatening because they cannot get right side up without their shepherd.  This can also happen when they are so laden down with wool from collecting so much “stuff” that they fall over from the sheer weight of too much.

This story had my attention.  I was feeling more than a bit “downward cast.”  I stayed  an extra long time at the picnic thoroughly celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary and listening to testimonies of the couple who had lost everything and found life most abundantly after they had.  I celebrated with those who had found their soul mate and had recently married.  I celebrated with all those young moms sprouting another baby bump and rejoicing with the couples where fathers are present and leading and loving their families and daily teaching them about Jesus.  The church matriarchs are role models of what a prayer warrior and praise leader looks like.  They talk, they share emotions, they love on you.

Then I went home and put the job search on the back burner and studied Sheep Herding all evening.  A book was recommended called A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller.  It is no longer available as an e-book so I found a summary here:

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

A few excerpts which resonated are these:

“When is all is said and done, the welfare of any flock is entirely dependent upon the management afforded them by their owner.”

I have worked for enough marginal managers to know how true this is.

only the shepherd can provide release from these anxieties

“It is the master in people’s lives who makes the difference in their destiny.”

Amen to that.  What you let in to your mind is what you become.  I am looking for an owner/manager who delights in his flock where there is no greater reward and no deeper satisfaction than that of seeing his sheep contented, well fed, safe and flourishing under his care.  He will spare Himself no pains to provide shelter from storms and protection from ruthless enemies.  I am guilty of seldom resting.  Always chasing an adventure along my curiosity pathways.  “To be at rest there must be a definite sense of freedom from fear, tension, aggravation and hunger.  Only the shepherd can provide release from these anxieties.  The Lord makes it possible to lie down, to rest, to relax, to be content and flourishing.”  When my eyes are on the Master they are not on the world around me.  This is a place of peace.

“There is a bitterness of feeling hopeless and without strength in one’s self.  Being a cast sheep is one who finds itself lying on its back, feet in the air, flailing away, frantically trying to stand up.  A cast sheep is easy prey, helpless, close to death and vulnerable to attack.”

sheepfree2Yep, that is exactly where I found myself.  Upside down and flailing.

in spite of ourselves, the Good Shepherd leads

The last time when life looked this desperate, I had also been looking for a job.  My circumstances were extreme at that time requiring a multitude of miracles.  I took a break after weeks of sending applications to a black hole, and attended a cow exhibition in Ohio with a friend who raises Murray Grey cattle.  (Do you understand I am a farm girl at heart!) I had just gotten my first smart phone and discovered it was smarter than me.  I actually had received a job offer and it was in my spam folder and I did not know how to get it out.  “Even in spite of ourselves, our Good Shepherd leads us through the valleys.  He knows where we can find strength and sustenance and gentle grazing despite every threat of disaster about us.”

impossible in my own strength

In my own strength, I know I will not be able to find what is necessary to restore my soul and provide for my income.  Against worldly ways, I relinquished the remaining free time off work and stopped chasing jobs I seemed unqualified for and sat at the feet of my Good Shepherd and learned all about sheep herding.

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A Facebook post from one of my many pastor friends said “God isn’t asking you to figure it out.  He is asking you to trust that He already has.”  I guess I had a few more lessons to learn.  So for the bulk of two days, I tuned out the world and yes even church on Sunday in order to thank God for what He is doing and I praised Him.  “He has been through the storms of suffering before.  He bore our sorrows and knows our grief.  No matter what storms I face, His very life and strength and vitality is poured into mine.  It overflows so the cup of my life runs over with His life.”

Lord you have given me so many gifts, please find the people who need what you have created in me.  Let me leave behind something wonderful and worthwhile, beautiful and beneficial to ourselves and for others and for your glory Lord.

p.s. and please turn me right side up.20170813_095230

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