When I see a flock of sheep I see exactly that, a flock. A rabble of wool. A herd of hooves. I don’t see a sheep. I see sheep. All alike. None different. That’s what I see. But not so with the shepherd. To him every sheep is different. Every face is special. Every face has a story. And every sheep has a name. . . The shepherd knows his sheep. He calls them by name.
When we see a crowd, we see exactly that, a crowd. Filling a stadium or flooding a mall. When we see a crowd, we see people, not persons, but people. A herd of humans. A flock of faces. That’s what we see.
But not so with the Shepherd. To him every face is different. Every face has a story. Every face is a child. Every child has a name. . . The Shepherd knows you. He knows your name. -Max Lucado, Experiencing the Heart of Jesus
According to Merriam-Webster surrender means: to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed. to give the control or use of (something) to someone else.
One morning in a coffee shop in Madison Georgia we met to discuss our next writing project and faced a moment of surrender. Not a waving the white flag kind of moment but a sinking into the acceptance of God’s will. Were we going to be all in for God with our writing? In our faith journey we must reach that point of no return with God, “to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc.”
After writing children’s books for twenty years – writing hard, striving pushing, promoting – the success was good and sweet. Just the letters from children alone were worth the effort. When we started The Shepherd’s Song we had never written a book for adults – all our manuscripts had been less than 100 pages long. All of our contacts in publishing were in the children’s world. Writing a book for adults seemed a little ill-advised and crazy.
We had written down the title. We had discussed the idea. We fought it at first. But the idea sat before us on a piece of paper on the table of the coffee shop. Beside the paper an open Bible turned to Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Ps 23:1
The very words that prompted our idea challenged us as writers. Could we believe God’s promises in the psalm? Sometimes our first reaction to a calling from God is fear and resistance. “We can’t” “We have never” “There’s no way” We said all those things but as we let go of our resistance and surrendered to the idea, the fear was replaced by excitement.
Try to give your agenda to God. Keep saying, ‘Your will be done, not mine.’ Give every part of your heart and your time to God and let God tell you what to do, where to go, when and how to respond. God does not want you to destroy yourself. Exhaustion, burnout, and depression are not signs that you are doing God’s will. God is gentle and loving. God desires to give you a deep sense of safety in God’s love. Once you have allowed yourself to experience that love fully, you will be better able to discern who you are being sent to in God’s name. Henri Nouwen
By the next day we had each completed drafts of one of the first stories of the book. When we surrender we can let go of fear and accept any outcome.
In the surrender of any work there is a moment of fear, a moment of resistance, then a moment of relinquishing and finally the excitement and joy and peace. We have that peace as we move forward in our work trusting God and surrendering to His will. Surrender removes the fear of failure.
Can you relate to this issue of surrender? Where do you struggle with it?
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
Before we decided to collaborate on The Shepherd’s Song, we each had writing careers of our own. In those writing projects we had control of our own books. The thousands of decisions it takes to write and publish a book were all made by one person. Then the change. We decided to work together. Suddenly all those decisions had to be made by two people. That’s more complicated. Read more
Two great days of sharing Psalm 23 were the perfect launch for our book, The Shepherd’s Song.
God’s Word went out on chocolate, cards, books, tissue boxes, cupcakes, water bottles, balloons, cake, dog bandanas, stewed tomatoes and bouquets of spring flowers. Now that’s exciting.
We spent the days sharing Psalm 23 at an urban health clinic, a program for homeless women, a library, a fire station. a hospital, a local park, an urban school, a food bank, a group renovating houses, a retirement home and an ICU waiting room.
Here are some pictures of the fun:
And our favorite moment in video:
What a great two days of celebrating God’s Word and sending out the book and Psalm 23.
The Shepherd’s Song has stories about twelve people whose lives are changed by Psalm 23. When it was time to write about the rod and staff, we started with research. We learned that the rod and the staff are the tools that a shepherd uses to protect and discipline the sheep. The rod is a club that the shepherd uses to ward off predators. The staff is a crooked stick that the shepherd uses to guide the sheep and pull them back from danger. If we look at God as our Shepherd, the rod and staff would be his protection for us. How would we show this in a story? What does this look like in a real life? read more
Follow the incredible journey of one piece of paper—a copy of Psalm 23—as it travels around the world, linking lives and hearts with its simple but beautiful message.The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures…
Shortly before a tragic car accident, Kate McConnell wrote down the powerful words of Psalm 23 on a piece of paper for her wayward son. Just before she loses consciousness, Kate wonders if she’s done enough with her life and prays, “Please, let my life count.”
Unbeknownst to Kate, her handwritten copy of Psalm 23 soon begins a remarkable journey around the world. From a lonely dry cleaning employee to a soldier wounded in Iraq, to a young Kurdish girl fleeing her country, to a Kenyan runner in the Rome Invitational marathon, this humble message forever changes the lives of twelve very different people. Eventually, Kate’s paper makes it back to its starting place, and she discovers the unexpected ways that God changes lives, even through the smallest gestures.
The Shepherd’s Song, published by Howard Books, will be released March 11, 2014.
The Lord is my Shepherd. How are writers like sheep? What does is mean for a writer to pray these words of surrender. Join us in exploring what Psalm 23 means for writers and how to pray these powerful words. We’re posting today at the WordServe Water Cooler.
Quietly, in bedrooms and armchairs across the world a force of power unknown and unseen is unleashed, changing the course of the world: the prayers of faithful women and men for children.
Untold numbers of mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles and people of faith lift up prayers. We do not know how many soldiers have returned home to spouses and loved one because of these prayers. We will never be able to count the good choices made and bad choices avoided. How many have been healed? How many have avoided disaster? How many lives have grown in faith through the quiet prayers of others.
Join us for twelve weeks of prayer from Psalm 23. Sign up here to receive the weekly email devotional message with a prayer for you to pray for a loved one.