REFLECTION on Saturday 6th June
This week’s reflections are by Stephen Rand who is a communicator who
worked for Tear Fund and Open Doors, travelling widely. He is now responsible
for the public communications of the
All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or
Belief. He and his wife Susan live in Bicester, Oxfordshire, where Stephen is
working on missional outreach toe the new-build estates.
A life of Praise
Reading: Psalm 119: 176 (NIV)
I have strayed like lost
sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands
This psalm has not been written by a spiritual
giant, someone who lived a life that we could never aspire to. Rather it’s been
written by someone subject to doubt, prone to failure, under pressure – but determined
to hang on, to keep going.
He finishes this long and complex poem with a prayer
that comes from pathos rather than triumph: ‘I have strayed.’ The analogy is a common
biblical one, rooted in the everyday life of a shepherd in the Middle East.
Isaiah echoes the same thought: ‘We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of
us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us
all’ (Isaiah 53:6). Many Christians see this verse from Isaiah as summarising
the gospel: because humanity has strayed from God, God took the initiative and
sent Jesus into the world ‘that the world through him might be saved.’ (John
What’s more, in asking ‘seek your servant’, the writer
anticipates the words of Jesus: ‘What do you think? If a man owns a hundred
sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the
hills and go to look for the one that has wandered off.?’ (Matthew 18:12) This not
only emphasises the value that each individual has to God, but also hints at
the deep truth that when we think we are seeking God, God is seeking us. Jesus
said, ‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost ‘. (Luke 19:10)
I met someone recently who had been a convinced atheist,
but at a time of crisis in their life went and sat down in the quiet of a
deserted parish church. At that point they heard God speak to them, saying, ‘I
want you’. they had replied ‘well I don’t want you’, but that was how their
journey to faith began.
you for this psalm that has celebrated the value of your word.
keep seeking me,
I may know you more
and live for you joyfully and effectively. Amen.