Tucked away in a book-filled study, the shepherd’s desk doesn’t capture imaginations. It’s only six feet by four feet of workspace, but the polished oak top serves as the kitchen for meals from heaven. The shepherd sits working long with careful eyes, observing the sacred text. Making certain the ingredients are handled with precision and care, he labors in the galley of study and prayer until the sermon is ready. The shepherd’s desk, although not spectacular in appearance, undergirds a heavenly work.
Lives are restored around this sacred desk. Tears of sheep and the shepherd alike stain the grains of wood. Some tears are shed in agony and others in joy. From the joys of youth to the pains of death, souls are unburdened and laid bare. Wisdom from God’s Word is shared and received as the pastor counsels his flock. Although many never see the work around the shepherd’s desk, the smile of heaven makes the work worthwhile.
His shoulders slumped under the weight of the baseball bat. He bit his bottom lip and wrinkled his nose, fighting back tears. Straightening in the box, his eyes trained on the arm of the pitching machine. Within seconds, another ball came hurling toward the plate. His mother and I held our breath. The slap of the catcher’s glove let us know our fears came true. The umpire, as if to erase any doubt from the crowd, bellowed, “Strike three! You’re out!”
A little boy’s tear-filled eyes searched the stands, looking for our reaction. The heartbreak written across his face marched across the field, up the bleachers, climbed down my throat, and wrapped around my stomach in a double fisherman’s knot. I wanted to run out on the field, scoop him up, and bearhug him. But I knew it would embarrass the little boy that was testing his masculinity on the chalked diamond. All I knew to do was look through the chain-linked fence into his eyes, clapping, and keep repeating, “It’s alright, son. It’s alright.”
I wanted him to knock the ball out of the park that day. My desire was not based on some vicarious childhood dream. The motivation for wanting him to succeed was because I knew he wanted to do well. He wanted to look to the stands as he rounded the bases and see us cheering. That didn’t happen on that hot summer day. As we all learn, my son learned you don’t win every time.
As I watched him trod off the field towards the dugout, I realized how God, our Heavenly Father, must feel. How many times has He wanted us to succeed, but all too often we don’t? We may expect to look to heaven, and see an angry scowl, but in reality, God’s still rooting for us from heaven’s grandstands. Although He doesn’t want us to fail, He knows that every crook in the journey will bring glory to His name. He knows each disappointment will teach us lessons and shape us into the person He is making us. And most important, He knows that nothing will ever change whose child we are. Even if, we go down swinging.
I silenced my alarm and crawled back into bed. My heartbeat echoed in my head. I didn’t want to wake up, but I needed to. I planned, the night before, to get many tasks finished. My agenda was full. I wondered if all my prioritizing and planning were in vain because I wasn’t sure if I could function. There was still work to be done.
Throwing the covers back, I eased my feet to the bedroom floor and made my way to the coffeepot. Coffee would help. After sipping the smoothness of Folger’s Black Silk, my mind was still clouded, and a bit confused. My spirit was restless. What was happening? Why did I feel so blah? I assumed bacon would help, but it didn’t. It would be a long day.
As I opened my Psalms in 30 Days prayerbook, I didn’t want to pray. I fumbled through its pages, finding the passages for the day, and forced myself to pray. My spirit felt like saltine crackers, dry and bland. I questioned continuing, but I felt a need to keep pressing. I finished my morning devotional routine, and I didn’t feel any change in my soul. It would be a long day.
Still feeling overwhelmed, I stopped and took a deep, cleansing breath. I jotted down some notes in my journal. Then it hit me. God, you are present. Despite all my angst, God is always present. I took another cleansing breath and stopped all attempts at my doing and settled into being, being in God’s presence. God, I’m here, and you’re here with me.
Immediately, Paul’s words to a young pastor entered my mind, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim 2:13). No matter how I felt, God is faithful. It doesn’t matter if I check all the items off my to-do list, God remains steadfast. He’s with me. God is always with me, whether or not I feel his presence. As I considered this truth, Peter’s inspired words surfaced in my mind, “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Pet 5:7). God is a very present help to his children (Ps 46:1). I pushed my agenda for the day aside and basked in this truth. The clouds of angst broke, allowing the light of God’s presence to fill me. Maybe the day wouldn’t be that long.