The Grass Isn’t Greener
I’ve made a habit of praying both the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23 every morning. I pray both passages of scripture slowly, allowing my mind to reflect on people and circumstances in my life. I believe the Holy Spirit is a vital part of this practice, and I can tell you, it has revolutionized my prayer life.
Those of you who attended either our church in Seoul or the one in Pyeongtaek likely recall the many times I encouraged you to build this practice of prayer in your lives. I had lunch with a member of our Seoul congregation just before returning to the U.S. He shared with me how praying these two passages of scripture changed his life, empowering him to overcome sinful ways with which he had struggled for years. He is now living his Christian life in much greener pastures.
Years ago, I heard a sermon by Dr. Charles Stanley. He was preaching at a pastor’s conference, and his message was directed to those called as under-shepherds to God’s flock.
Dr. Stanley shared with us the importance of longevity in the churches we serve. Too often, pastors encounter problem people in their church or grow weary of churches that have plateaued or even declined in growth. The natural tendency when this happens is to find another church — greener pasture, if you will.
Dr. Stanley said something I’ll never forget. It changed my ministry for the better. “Did you ever stop to think,” he asked us, “that the grass that looks so green to you looked brown to the pastor who left?”
By the way, he said something else in that message that has stuck with me — When you run into the pain and problems that often come to pastors through church fights and division, remember, Dr. Stanley said, “It’s hot water that keeps us pure.”
Anyway, back to the enticing lure of greener pastures. There are times in all our lives when we just want to run away from our problems. One of my chapters in Philemon is entitled “Runaways.” In it, I share the temptation that all of us encounter at some or several points in our lives to get out from under the burdens we bear. But the truth is those burdens are often the narrow path that Jesus speaks of — the path to life and abundance.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures.”
Sometimes those pastures don’t look green. At least, not when we see them through eyes focused on what is easy and comfortable. But if we will ask God to help us see things from His perspective, we will discover that The Good Shepherd has plans for our lives we could have never imagined.
Could it be that the green grass you are so desperately seeking is where you are right now?