The Image Behind Being Downcast
I have a couple of memories around hearing the Lord's voice, that while lasting just fraction of seconds, changed me forever. Those moments have formed supernatural lifelines in my heart. I return to those precious memories and I relive. I recall and I claim. I affirm and I praise. God sees me. God sees you. In this hope we are saved.
One of these times happened when I lived in San Clemente for a season, a difficult one. God had brought me there in his tender mercy during a time of rebuilding me. I was mourning and broken. I was afraid and lonely. I was in my early 30’s and had only been a Christian for a couple of years. I had just rededicated my life to Him after His Word and Spirit led me to repent over clinging to an “idol” that almost destroyed me.
During this time, often after work, I would take the short drive down Avenido Pico to the coast, and park in a little beach lot off the Pacific. You’d think I would get out of my car and walk the beach, but I didn't. I stayed hidden within my car’s protective covering. I was crying a lot during this time and knew enough not to be the crazy person walking the beach sobbing. So in the car I watched the waves. I think God used their motion to keep me still while He was simultaneously washing away layers of emotional numbness, to release formerly inaccessible areas of pain. God’s deep was calling to my deep in these tearful ocean sessions, Psalm 42:7.
One evening as I watched the sun set through my windshield, I was replaying how many years I had wasted on a relationship, certain I was now without hope because I had severely disobeyed God. The LORD in His mercy broke in; and deep inside I clearly heard him say, “Don’t cry.” It startled me. It was new. It was merciful. It was a certain voice that held a hope and plan for me beyond my despair. The One outside of time was speaking contrary to the hopelessness I was sure my future held. In an instant, with that split second whisper, I knew Christ was speaking life over a coffin in my heart. I remembered those 2 words were somewhere said by Christ in scripture, so I frantically pulled out my bible and searched for them. Luke 7:13. He wasn’t telling me how; He wasn’t telling me when; but He was telling me in so many words, “Lift your eyes my child, I have a plan for your life. Trust and obey. I bring life from death. You are not alone.”
There is a phrase found in the Old Testament that describes the state I was in. Depending on the translation, the word will appear as either “cast” or “downcast”. When downcast, our life breath is at risk. Our sobs symbolically drown us, brought on by despairing thoughts. In this state, we connect with the gravity of our inability to retrieve time, reverse or control events. In our minds, we are down for the count. Or maybe our constant striving leaves us on our backs. Anxious thoughts literally suffocate hope. Our hearts panic, we break a sweat, we despair. Lifeblood drains and we can barely stand. Slowly our time with God ebbs away and He feels distant. Easily our anxiety, worry, willfulness, and lack of trust keep us “cast” down in heart.
The term is a shepherding term. Literally, for a sheep, it's a life threatening state. Here is a picture of a “cast” sheep. In some portions in the Bible, use of the word is meant to paint a picture for a desperate soul cry. It gives expression to depth of need. As an example, see Psalm 42.
Maybe you relate to being downcast; and the words penned in Psalm 42 will take on new meaning to you inspiring your heart cry. When a sheep ends up cast on its back, it can quickly die. The position brings dangerous levels of pressure on lungs and other internal organs. Blood leaves its legs and strength to help itself is severely compromised. A shepherd has to intervene when one of his sheep is downcast. He MUST help the sheep back on its feet. And then if he is a good shepherd, he stays close by it during recovery, holding it steady, often talking to it gently to calm it down, rub its legs for blood to flow again, and wait for it to rejoin the flock.
This is the beauty of intimacy with Christ as the Good Shepherd. This is the power of surrendering to God as LORD of your life. Sheep don’t survive without the care of the Good Shepherd. God absolutely refuses to be far from His flock. His way to stay near us is through the Holy Spirit indwelling His own and leading our hearts to follow Christ. The Third person of the Trinity is the promise of God to be the flock’s ever-present help. He testifies of Christ, whispers His love, reminds us of God’s Word that conquered death, teaches what we previously could not bear, affirms we are never alone ever again, calms our troubled hearts and stills our fears, see John 14:15-21, 25-27.
Letting the Good Shepherd care for you requires you admit you are merely a helpless sheep. This requires humbling yourself, abiding, following His voice, trusting and obeying.
At the time of the “whisper behind the steering wheel”, I had just gone through a long season of His silence while I humbled myself. After a year of Christian counseling, surrender of my will, repenting, getting baptized, serving in ministry despite depression, joining a small group, attending every service my church offered, spending hours in worship, and obeying when I did not “feel like it”, His voice broke in. He was speaking prior, although silently and through redemptive action, lovingly carrying me far away from the wolf.
He still whispers to those who are downcast, "Don't cry." It is His nature to stand over the coffins of our lives and resurrect hope (Luke 7:11-17). Are you sitting still in His presence letting His deep reach into your deep need? Your soul need not lie on its back, suffocate, and die. Christ did that for you. Christ is the sacrificial lamb “cast” for all. But He did not stay down. He was resurrected and lifted to His Heavenly throne. We are told we are to know this same power, that it is an incomparably great power at work in us who believe (Ephesians 1:19-20).
It’s a season of Lent. Follow the Good Shepherd. Sit in His presence asking for more of Him. Come to the Psalm 23 meditative prayer session on February 19th. Choose to attend 1 pm, 4 pm, or 7 pm. Draw near! You will not be put on the spot to group share or group process. It's a private time between you and the Good Shepherd. Come thirsty, come humbly. Your soul will be refreshed! Sign up here.
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Prayer is Gift!
Hi my name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 25 year journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and praying for His life in greater measure!