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  • Rochelle Walton

My Shepherd

Ever tried hard when all you really needed to do was trust God?

Ever work tirelessly to try to make ends meet or toil to work something out so much so that you finally came to the end of yourself? And once you reached that place, the end of yourself, you gave it over to God? In that moment, He turned the whole situation around in a way you never thought, imagined or could have done on your own.

He has a habit of doing that *cough cough* Ephesians 3:20.

I know that this has been my story lately. Prior to 2019, I didn't really stress about money. It wasn't like I was flowing in it before 2019 - my faith was just different. I would literally agree to go places and make plans to do things and just believed that God would somehow provide for it. If I needed a certain amount of money by a certain date for a bill or fee I just knew God would make it happen. If my account was low and friends invited me to eat, I'd agree and trusted God to make it happen and every time somehow the money would appear in my account. I just had the faith that, whatever I wanted or needed, God would supply.

This year, however, something changed. God arrested my attention the other day and asked me, "what happened to make you doubt My provision?" I don't know what it has been about 2019 specifically that has caused me to start trying to do and provide for myself in my own strength. I don't know if it is the fact that I am moving closer and closer to "true adulthood" or the "real world" and becoming more independent - but just being transparent, I have been battling financial stress. I know it may be surprising. Someone looking at my personal social media may see the events I have attended, the places I have traveled and the people I have met and think that my bank account is overflowing, but I can't even take credit for any of it - IT WAS ALL GOD.

Looking back it seems like just about every month this year I have spent an unhealthy amount of time stressed about bills. I even work two part time jobs on top of classes and interning to cover my bills. I have literally stressed so badly and been so worn-down operating in my own strength that I have broken out in hives! Crazy!! However, every month like clockwork, I reach the end of myself where I come back to the same realization that I CANNOT DO THIS ON MY OWN OR IN MY OWN STRENGTH. I try hard when I just need to trust God. Every single time I step out of the way and hand it over to God, He works it out whether it is an unexpected check, a random Cashapp or someone handing me money at church just because "God told them to." This year a friend of mine and her family randomly called me and invited me on an all expense paid trip to a Warriors game in Charlotte. When finances weren't working out as I had expected for study abroad, God sent countless people ranging from close friends to complete strangers to sow into my education and my fees were covered! For my birthday my friends really pulled together to ensure that I had the funds to celebrate and enjoy myself. God is beyond gracious, beyond generous and beyond able to work out whatever is concerning you, if you just trust Him. He even cares enough to work out those things that may seem unnecessary to others but are a big deal to you. HE IS YOUR SHEPHERD.

I've been studying this Scripture this week...

"The LORD is my Shepherd;
I have ALL that I need."
Psalm 23:1

Shepherds feed, guide, shield, protect, tend to and carefully manage their sheep. They deal with the problems their flock faces and they provide for the needs of the flock. Shepherds pay close attention to every sheep under their care...This is Who God is for us.

Because the LORD is our Shepherd:

- He is responsible for our safety and well-being. He is a strong tower that we run to for shelter (Prov. 18:10 & 2 Sam. 22:3-4), He fights our battles for us (Ex. 14:14 & Deu. 20:4) and He defends us (Is. 54:17). God would not create and then not care for His child (Is. 49:15 & Matt. 7:11).

- He is responsible for my provision. When I trust in and depend on God, I LACK NOTHING (Psalm 34:10). When I take my well-being into my own hands and choose to pick up the responsibility of providing for myself, I open the door for lack to creep in. In that moment I begin to experience shortage - shortage on strength, shortage on finances, shortage on peace, shortage on joy, shortage on wisdom. I begin to lack because I was never meant to fill the role of Jehovah Jireh in my life. Those are shoes that I cannot fill.

I am not self-made therefore I am not self-sustained.

The LORD is Jehovah Ezer (the Lord my Sustainer) I am not.

"Some [rely] on chariots and others on horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD our God."
Psalm 20:7 GW

- We don't trust in jobs, possession and physical protection to be our provision and safety. These are merely resources God can choose to use to care for us. Our true hope is in the Lord for He is ever-present and never-changing. The only constant. Jobs come and go. Possessions fade and become outdated. Physical items of protection fall through at times. BUT GOD always comes through.

"Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing."
Psalm 34:10 NLT

- God WILL provide for His own BUT we must trust Him! This scripture says that those who trust in the Lord lack no good thing. Trust is the key that unlocks the door to God's glorious riches (Phil. 4:19).

"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need."
Matthew 6:33 NLT

- When we seek God FIRST, He then takes care of all of our needs. Unfortunately, many of us seek after the things of this world that gives the empty promise of something they can't do...they promise to bring us joy, peace, financial freedom, etc. but these things can't supply our needs - not like God can. If we focus on the things that concern God, He will take care of all the things that concern us.

"And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others."
2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work."
2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV

- When GOD provides your needs, then you always have more than enough. He is an over and above God. When we toil to supply our own needs, we may work up enough to make ends meet BUT with dependence on God comes a surplus supply! We experience sufficiency in every area, so much so that we have enough to poor into others who are lacking. We will be the lender and not the borrower (Deu. 28:12-13). There is no limit to God's supply and there is no limit to our supply when we trust God to fill it.

"And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus."
Phil. 4:19 NLT

- These glorious riches belong to those of us who are in Christ. These riches are available for us to fill every need in our life. We do not have to lack in any area, health, strength, finances, peace...any area! God will supply ALL of our needs if we will just trust Him as our Provider...our Shepherd...our Good Father.

Stop trying so hard and just trust God.

I know it is easier said than done...but you can do it. It can be done. Practice faith. If you feel yourself starting to doubt, don't beat yourself up, just pause and ask God to help your unbelief (Mark 9:22-24). Faith and trust are like muscles, they have to be exercised. Right now take a moment and pick one thing you are going to trust God with and test Him at His Word. See if He won't perform just as He said He would (Numbers 23:19). Then give Him something else...and something else...and something else. Keep track of your prayer requests and God's answers. Seeing where God came through before helps us to trust Him to do it again.

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