Ever fight a war with an enemy caused by an enemy you cannot see? We all have—and do. My current battle is a minor but aggravating one: chigger bites. Creatures so tiny, the head of a pin can hold two or three but their poison so vile it literally dissolves skin tissue. At first, they aren’t too noticeable but within a day or so, the itch is impossible to ignore. Prevention is the wisest course.
My recent encounter did not catch me unaware. I went to the woods prepared. Long pants, boots and my favorite non-chemical bug oil (Avon Skin-so-Soft!). My preparations kept every bug at bay except the chigger. Tree Oil has been my battle partner for the last couple days. Preparations that put trust in an ineffective solution do not accomplish much. The rest of the crew who trooped into the forest used a traditional bug spray and left the adventure without chigger bites. Trusting in myself has brought me to more battles than I can count. Can you relate?
As believers in Christ, we have all of the provisions we need to live well in this world. We have every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1); Christ came that we would have abundant lives (John 10) and He provides all we need for life & godliness (2 Peter 1). Too often, we trust in ourselves, our plans or our perspective to produce what God has already provided.
Psalm 23 offers us a natural world look at how the Good Shepherd cares for us! The entire Psalm is abeautiful picture of resting in the care of the Shepherd but one line has captivated my thoughts as I apply healing oil to my chigger battle wounds.
“…You anoint my head with oil.”
I’ve always read that as blessings given from God, and while that’s not wrong, it’s not the whole story! In the sheep field, there are flies that attack the sheep. They enter the ears, lay their eggs and even burrow into the brain. On their own, the sheep cannot rid themselves of the flies—nor can they heal the damage the flies do. In fact, the flies create such discomfort, the sheep become frantic; they damage their own selves as trying to fix the problem. Prevention is what the shepherd focuses on; shepherds ‘anoint’ their sheep with oil!
The Good Shepherd longs to do the same for us. There are many destructive pestilences in this world—some we can see, some we are aware of, some we can manage—but only some. Relying on ourselves is a losing proposition in the eternal economy. We need the Good Shepherd. He wants us to live abundant, peaceful, healthy lives. He provides all we need to do just that. The choice is ours.
Will we receive what He longs to give?