The initial changes and stresses of COVID-19 isolation evoked various emotions in me, including fear, grief, anger, and frustration. As I adjusted to my virtual ministry and intensified home-life I began to feel a deep numbness and weariness in my body and soul, so I decided to spend a day in God’s presence. I needed my Good Shepherd to make me lie down in green pastures, to lead me beside quiet waters, and to restore my soul (Psalm 23:1-3). As I sat in His presence, I saw a trail stretching out before me. Jesus, my Good Shepherd, was leading me, a fluffy sheep.
As I walked, I saw many wounded sheep, dying or dead, beside the path. They were my broken dreams. I felt the ache of loss and the heaviness of the COVID-19 isolation.
Then I saw God’s great eagles sweep down to lift up the dead and wounded sheep. The eagles carried those broken dreams and disappointments to Jesus’ empty tomb, where they sank into the floor, disintegrating into dust.
From the dust, multitudes of crimson roses grew up, filling the tomb with fragrance, beauty and life. The roses floated out of the tomb and took root all along the path where I was a sheep following Jesus. Now, instead of broken, wounded dreams beside the path, thousands of beautiful, fragrant roses of hope delighted my way.
As I continued, thorns engulfed the path. These sins of myself and those around me poked my flesh, hindered my progress, and caused pain to spill from my eyes in tears. Then my Shepherd lifted me and gently extracted the thorns. His tears bathed my wounds, soothing and healing them.
A fire suddenly erupted and consumed all the thorns. My Shepherd held me close and explained that the fire represents this time of trial that is ravaging our peace and the peace of the world.
Then the wind swept up all the ashes. They swirled around me and I couldn’t breathe, so I hid my face in His chest. I inhaled His goodness and His fragrance of joy and peace until the storm passed. Then the lush, velvety grass of His grace renewed the ground and I could walk in freedom.
The Good Shepherd rose up, taller and greater, until He towered over everything. I saw great armies below us. Countless soldiers on horses and in armor filled the scene, moving toward a great battlefield. And they were singing songs of praise to God as they moved.
The great battle would be in the distant future, but the preparation was now, as the armies of God headed toward the battlefield. And I saw that the Good Shepherd was holding each one of His soldiers in His arms, even as He was holding me.
How are you in this time of stress and isolation? Will you give Jesus your broken dreams and disappointments and allow Him to replace them with His beauty and hope? Do you have sins you need to confess – sins of yourself or those around you? Will you allow the Good Shepherd to extract those thorns and heal you? And when the fire consumes the thorns, will you cling to Him, inhaling His goodness, joy and peace? As you head into battle, will you let our Good Shepherd hold you? Will you rest in His peace, even as you prepare for the battle? God is calling you to come to Him, your Good Shepherd, and find rest for your soul.
Oh Lord, please do this work of soul-healing in each of us. Exchange our broken dreams for your beauty and hope. Burn up the sin in and around us, and heal our wounds. Hold us in your arms even as you prepare us for battle, and give us rest.