I remember going on a Shabbat drive with family through the beautiful countryside somewhere in the middle of nowhere. It was great enjoying nature in good weather, going up and down through lush, rolling hills of farmland. We also saw some sheep fenced in a large field near the road, and just because we decided to stop the car to look.
When we stopped, all the sheep rushed down the hill toward us and started baaing excitedly as if expecting to be fed. The only ‘sheep’ in the field that had the common sense not to run toward a group of strangers turned out to be a lama that stood in the back looking carefully at us from a safe distance. I can imagine it thinking “dim-wits,” at the sight of the indiscriminate sheep, willing to run to whoever walked by and hoping to be fed.
Those sheep, as sweet as their apparent lack of concern with strangers may have appeared, didn’t seem to know who their Shepherd was, or even for that matter to care who was their Shepherd. “I will eat from whomever I can eat it from,” seemed to be their mind set, and this attitude could set them up to be lamb chops or to be seriously hurt. The lama, however, through common sense or healthy fear wasn’t willing to eat from just anyone or anything.
We can be like those sheep. Sometimes when we lose sight of Who our Shepherd is; we can try to get our needs met by anything that comes by or anyone who shows us some attention. God talks about this, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
Sometimes even when we’re not looking to get our needs met in the wrong places, we can still do the right things without knowing who God is; this still makes how we do it wrong, and we can end up at a dry well, even rightfully keeping the Sabbath if we don’t know the creator. The Sabbath is good, but the Sabbath isn’t just another law for us to keep just for the sake of keeping it. It is God’s loving reminder that He is our creator and that He is the one taking care of us. When we know our source of strength and place our values on something that isn’t temporary, then we won’t easily settle for anything that comes our way.
God knows we need to be reminded of that, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11).
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalms 23). Like a good shepherd, the Lord wants us to stop our work and rest in Him; he wants us to know He is taking care of us. We are to give our burdens to Him and stop running to any and every possible solution to meet our needs; we need to be running to Him and running only to Him because He cares for us.