Your poor, silly sheep

(Octavius Winslow, "Daily Need Divinely Supplied" 1870)

"The Lord is my Shepherd . . . He restores my soul."  Psalm 23:1, 3.

It is not the least important duty of the Shepherd to go in quest of the stray ones of the flock; the fickle sheep wandering from the fold.

The spiritual history of the believer is a history . . .
  of declension — and revival,
  of departure — and return,
  of his backsliding — and of the Savior's restoring.

The regenerate soul is bent upon backsliding from the Lord. The sun does not more naturally decline, than does the believing heart wander from God.

"O Lord, how many and hidden are my soul's departures from You, You only know! How often my love chills, my faith droops, my zeal flags, and I grow weary, and am ready to halt in Your service. Mine is a sinful, roving heart, as fickle to You as the changing wind; as false to my vows as a broken bow. But You, O Lord, are my Shepherd, and You restore my soul. Pitying my infirmity, knowing my wanderings, and tracking all my steps — You recover, heal, and pardon Your poor, silly sheep, prone to leave Your wounded, sheltering side in quest of that which can be found in Yourself alone."

Oh, the love of Jesus in . . .
  curbing our waywardness,
  checking our wanderings,
  arresting, healing, and restoring our souls.

He never forsakes His people, though they forsake Him times without number. How can He turn His back upon one bought with His sufferings, groans, and tears? How can He forsake the work of grace wrought in the soul by His Spirit? He may withdraw Himself for a time, gently to awaken us from our slothfulness and slumber — yet He returns again, and our lips gratefully sing, "He restores my soul."

"I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you!" Hebrews 13:5

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood!

O to grace how great a debtor,
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love
;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above!

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood-washed linen
How I'll sing Thy sovereign grace!