This verse has been on my mind since the beginning of the year, I'm not completely sure why, but it's just been on my mind a lot.
"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom."
I'm a very fearful person. I have really, really, severe anxiety and paranoia. I'm pretty much afraid of EVERYTHING! In the past, I tried to overcome these fears. I used to watch horror movies and that seemed to help for a while. But it was really just a band-aid. I've had night terrors since I was a small child, and watching horror flicks didn't help with that. Over the years they've been getting worse. So a few people told me to stop watching horror flicks, so I did. Now I'm scared of EVERYTHING again and the images I used to see in horror movies plague my thoughts at night. I still have the night terrors too.
I'm scared to be in large crowds, I'm scared of sticking out (I just want to blend in), I'm paranoid that people are following me or people are talking about me. I'm so afraid of so many things. But you know how many times Scripture says to not be afraid? It's over 9,000! Just kidding (some people may not understand that joke). It's really over 100 times! I think God was trying to tell us to not be afraid.
Little flock....this part really resides for me. I've been called a goat and I often wonder, "What if I really am a goat?" If you don't understand the whole sheep/goat metaphor, it's this: Jesus is the Great Shepherd. People are either sheep or goats. If we're sheep, then that means we follow Christ. If we're goats though, that can mean we think we're sheep when we're really not. Lately, I've been asking myself this even more than usually because I'm so confused about my life right now. I found out recently that my schizophrenia did not come with my brain injury, but the brain injury turned the switch on. I've had schizophrenia all my life without even realizing it. They don't diagnose someone with schizophrenia until someone is as early as 18 or 19 years old because that's when most of the symptoms show up. So now I'm wondering, "What all in my life has been real? Did this happen or was I just paranoid? Did that happen or was I hallucinating/hearing voices? The big one for me, "Is my relationship with God based on a lie?"
When I was fourteen (well, nearly fourteen) I went on my first missions trip (Jeremiah Project). I think we were in northern Virginia, but I honestly don't remember. Anyway, I felt like I had heard God's voice the last night we were there. He said, "I love you no matter what. You've gone through a tough time, but I want to help. Just believe." I knew God existed, I was raised in a Christian home with parents in ministry. But for a while, I hated God. I thought He was just toying with me to be entertained. But at the Jeremiah Project, I thought I heard Him talk to me. I also read Psalm 139 before that night which helped a lot too (it's now my favorite verse). All this convinced me that God really did love me. But, what if He really didn't talk to me? What if I was hearing a fake voice in my head? I honestly don't know the answer to that. It's really been tearing me apart. I've talked to a few people about this, and they've said it doesn't really matter if He really talked to me or not (as important as that may be for me). Did it influence my decision to follow Christ? Yes. But it's not the reason I follow Him. What matters is that I know I'm screwed up on my own. Without Christ I'm just dust and rotting eternally. I'm a slave to the world and myself. You may think, "The world isn't all that bad." Uh, have you watched the news lately? I hate to break it to you, but this world is rotting. Our bodies are rotting. It's only a matter of time before we die. We are slaves to the world and to ourselves. We're slaves to our screw ups. We're in prisons, and some people are so comfortable in their prison cells that they don't even notice the door to the prison is open and can escape! The door is open! Walk out!
I know I am a screw up, but in my brokenness, Christ makes me whole. We are all broken, living in a broken world. But we can be healed, we can be put back together! I'm not going to tell you it's easy, it's FAR from easy. It's possible, but not in our own power. The more we try to fix ourselves, the more broken we become. Picture this: There's a clay bowl being made. The person making the clay bowl knows what they are doing. Sometimes they have to take pieces off the bowl to make it look even more beautiful. They shape it with their hands. Then picture someone coming in trying to complete the bowl that doesn't even know what the artist wants to make it! Is it going to turn out right? Probably not. We are the clay bowls. God is our artist. If we try to fix ourselves, we're going to ruin the finished product. God knows what He's doing, and He's going to create us into something beautiful! We've just got to let Him do His thing. It's not easy, but we've got to let Him do His thing.
We're screw ups, we're broken. If we're the clay bowl, we should just be thrown out! But God sent His son Jesus, to save us! We're broken in a million pieces, but He puts us back together. We've just got to let Him instead of fight it. I am a sheep, because I know what Christ did for me, and I trust Him that He'll take care of me somehow. I follow Him, because He is my shepherd. You may have seen me say this, but I picture myself as a little lamb that often gets itself into trouble. I wander away from the rest of the flock and I wander away from the Shepherd. I end up getting hurt though, and the wolves want to devour me. But the Shepherd always comes to my rescue and fights off the wolves. He heals my wounds, carries me on His shoulders, and takes me back into the pasture with Him and the rest of the flock. Now that doesn't mean the injuries aren't going to never hurt anymore. They still hurt. My leg is still broken. But in time, it'll heal.
We may not see relief until we join Christ in heaven. We may always be broken. But He helps us get through it.
"I will never leave you nor forsake you."
He doesn't just sit up in the clouds watching us suffer. He helps us through it. He goes through life WITH us. He's there when we fall. When we fall He picks us back up. When He calls us His little flock, it's an affectionate term. We are His sheep He looks after.