Micah 7:14 (NLT)
O Lord, protect your people with your shepherd’s staff;
lead your flock, your special possession.
Though they live alone in a thicket
on the heights of Mount Carmel,
let them graze in the fertile pastures of Bashan and Gilead
as they did long ago.
By Chuck Griffin
This particular verse in Micah arises as part of a lament over sin and a longing for better days.
We can process this desire to be led back to the good life on so many levels. As a people, we can always look to aspects of a national past we believe to be better, the good old days, although we do have to be careful. People have a tendency to remember the good and forget the bad.
My wife and I like movies from the 1950s and early 1960s, the ones that fill the screen with images just a little too early for us to have seen with our own eyes. Think of the New York City street scenes in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” or Doris Day at the Automat, or Cary Grant in a finely tailored suit. How nice it would be to go back in time and experience all that—without polio, the Korean and Vietnam wars, racism, sexism bordering on misogyny, and those ever-present clouds of cigarette smoke, of course.
We can have similar longings on an individual level, too, desiring that “better time,” whenever that might have been—maybe when we were in high school, or first married, or when the kids were little. If we get stuck in that longing, the here-and-now can seem very much like a briar-filled thicket.
We cannot go back in time, and we probably would not want to do so, were we to think it through. What we can do is take the best of our past experiences, as a people or as a person, and find a way to carry what we learn from them forward. That’s where this verse from Micah becomes useful.
Followers of God know that the best of times always happen in conjunction with a deep relationship with God. When we are with God, we are tapping into promises of eternal joy, timeless truths that color any present moment for the better.
Whatever thicket we find ourselves in, God can lead us out, usually through fellowship with others who follow God. The Great Shepherd has even gone to the cross so we can forever escape the deadly consequences of sin.
Lord, as we walk with you, give us great optimism for the future, knowing you are leading us toward fertile pastures. Amen.