Posted by: Rex Boyles | September 30, 2007

“Shepherds of my soul …”

The invitation came from Troy Martin and Rudy Munoz. They asked me to speak at “Higher Ground”, a retreat for leaders at the Sky View Camp in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Both of these young men have been students of mine – students, who were willing to forgive me for the embarrassment that I brought upon their school … their churches … their Lord. As an expression of their forgiveness over these last few years, they have frequently called me to ask my advice over some decision to be made – to share with me some victory from or for God – to invite me to teach their people. So when they called – invited – I considered it … prayed about it … accepted it.

 I accepted their invitation, partly because of who asked … partly because I had been praying that God would give me opportunity to discuss with elders the need to rethink the church’s stereotypical reaction to sinners. I accepted the invitation, cautiously … because over the last seven years several leaders have made it clear that I no longer have any business teaching God’s Word in any “official” capacity. So, I prepared my heart to face the “elder brother” – but to be faithful to the Word and ways of the Father, who runs to welcome runaways home. 

As an answer to prayers – my own and those of our folks at the “Open” – I was accepted without questions and welcomed without conditions. From the first man to greet me on Thursday night to the last man to hug me “good-bye” on Saturday afternoon … not one “elder” brother “refused to come in” – NOT ONE … not one self-righteous “spiritual” priest or Levite “passed by on the other side”. They ALL treated me as a friend … loved me as a brother … respected me as a teacher.  In a little over 24 hours we studied God’s Word, re. The Great Shepherd, for over 8 hours. (The rest of the time we sang, prayed, played, ate and slept – more eating than sleeping.) As we read the song of the shepherd, David and the “red-letter” words of the Good Shepherd … we learned: 

Our Shepherd insists that we rest (“makes me lie down in green pastures”).  Our Shepherd wants to refresh us (“quiet waters”) … wants to reassure us (“your rod and your staff comfort me”) … wants to reward us (“prepare a table”). Our Shepherd knows us … leads us … feeds us … protects us … keeps us.  I hope that we all learned about the Shepherd of our souls; but I know that I learned even more from the words and examples of these men, who are called shepherds: “Rex, you are welcome here. You are our brother, and we are looking forward to what God has to say through you.” 

“Rex, years ago I heard the rumors; but I don’t know what happened, and I don’t care. I am a sinner, too. You are forgiven by God – so I forgive you, too.”  “Rex, thank you for your openness. But the fact that you sinned, does not change the gifts that God has given you to teach. And I believe that God is going to give you many opportunities to help other ‘sinners’ come home.” 

“Rex, I know that you have been through a hard time. I knew that something had happened; and I want to apologize to you. I am sorry that I did not come to find you, but I want you to know that I never stopped praying for you. My wife and I have always loved you and have never stopped loving you. I have missed you.”  “Rex, would you consider coming back next year? We have already decided that we want you to come back next year to teach us, during Higher Ground.” 

Nothing can take the place of the truth of God’s Word; but to see His shepherding – tending – in the faces of these men, who follow Him, and to hear His reassuring – consoling – in the words of these men, who know Him … brought comfort to my old tired heart and reminded me “surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.”

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