An old shepherd once attended a church service and was called upon to pray. The prayer he offered spoke of three things: his Christianity, his occupation of shepherd, and his experience with stepping outside God’s will. He prayed, “Lord, I got among the thorns and briars and got scratched so badly that I was torn and bleeding. But, Lord, it is only fair to say that I didn’t get scratched until I wandered out of Your pasture.”
The term “God’s pasture” was the shepherd’s quaint way of describing God’s will for his life. Admittedly, the inside of that will doesn’t always mean safety in terms of worldly circumstances. You can ask the apostles about that as they are furiously rowing in the midst of that windstorm on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:15-21). It is equally true, however, that to step outside God’s will is to open the door for all kinds of worldly and spiritual disaster to enter your life. As the shepherd so descriptively put it, if you want to get scratched up to the point of bleeding, try wandering out of the Lord’s pasture.
My brother Richie and I were driving down a road the other day, trying to locate a certain car lot where I was going to look at a car I was considering buying. As we drove we passed a field where cows were grazing. The field was boxed in by a barbed-wire fence, and a few of the cows were grazing at the edge of the field, right up next to the fence line. One cow, however, was riskily reaching its neck between the lines of fence so that it could eat the grass that lay just on the other side of the fence. I said to Richie, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
Perhaps right now you find your feet in a place outside of the pasture God has designed for you. Maybe you have wandered into a wrong relationship, a wrong job, a wrong pursuit, or a wrong whatever. Then again, maybe you haven’t actually left God’s pasture yet but, like that cow, you are dangerously reaching out your neck to taste some new field even as you try to keep your feet in the one in which God has you. Am I writing to anybody out there?
If any of this hits you, all I can say is consider this post God’s warning to you. If you haven’t already started feeling the thorns and briars — or at least the cuts from that barbed-wire fence at your neck — get ready because they are surely headed your way sooner or later. They might be worldly. They will definitely be spiritual. The chances are they will be both. But rest assured, you are going to end up scratched. That’s a given anytime we get outside God’s will. So as the old saying goes, “Be warned, be wise, and beware.” God’s pasture is always the best place for you.