This week on the blog, I have been sharing some requests that don’t seem to make too many prayer lists.
I have been reading a small book that was gifted to me called Lessons from a Sheepdog, by Phillip Keller.
Keller was, among many things, a shepherd. In the book he shares insights into his own faith journey that he learned while training a rescue dog named Lass.
Lass had capacity to be a great help to him, but she needed much guidance and patience.
From his experiences in training her; he relates how Christ, as our Shepherd, might view our sometimes wayward progress in learning to follow and serve Him.
His insights have helped me form some prayers that I think God may have been waiting patiently for me to learn to ask.
It took a long time for Keller to even get this dog to trust him. However, once she did develop a sense of him being her master, she became so attached to him that her affection sometimes trumped her obedience.
He needed her to be obedient to his commands in order for her to be a useful partner and co-worker in tending the flock.
Her own desires and excitement for the lively parts of caring for the flock would often draw her away from the actual work he expected from her.
Keller likened it to followers of Christ when we allow our zeal for God and outward displays of service to become the focus of our efforts instead of obedience.
“Love for the Master is not some sentimental emotion that sweeps over the soul in moments of special piety. Love for Christ is a deliberate setting of the will to carry out His commands at any cost. It is the delight of accomplishing our Father’s highest purposes, no matter how challenging.” page 56 *
He ends with the idea that the ultimate goal of our “love for Christ expressed through obedience to Him” is that others are blessed and cared for.
As I read his thoughts, I could truly see the tendency of God’s people to take activities and talents used in service to God and exalt THOSE instead of submitting them to be used BY God…in whatever way HE chooses.
I also read this week a suggestion that we often use greater effort resisting God and His instruction than we do in turning from disobedience.
And so, in keeping with my theme this week, I would add this to my prayer requests…
Heavenly Father, I pray that I would not equate emotion and passion and feeling with service to You. I pray that I would desire to be obedient to You more than anything else. I pray to be consistent and credible in my faith walk by daily living out what I proclaim to believe. Help me to use my energies to resist the temptation to exalt my own ideas of how service to You might look today. Strengthen me to obey You in the challenges of genuine service so that others are blessed and cared for.
**Lessons from a Sheepdog by Phillip Keller; Thomas Nelson, 2002