Signposts: Daily Devotions

Sunday, June 8

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to our own way...
—Isaiah 53:6

Sometimes on our pilgrim way we get bogged down in swamps not of our own making. Then we must, in humility and gratitude, allow God to draw us out and set our feet on solid ground.

But sometimes we deliberately step off a wide, smooth and clearly-marked path, just because we want to. Indulging ourselves in weakness or a rebellious impulse, giving in to temptation from time to time, we turn aside from what we know to be right— with no “miry bog” or “desolate pit” to excuse us. Humans have a marked inclination to stray like sheep into dangerous places, far from the fold or the right way.

Then too, we must let ourselves be rescued. Unable to save ourselves, we must ask the Shepherd of the flock to find us. The confession of sin in the Episcopal liturgy is exactly such an acknowledgment of wandering, such a cry for help in regaining God’s paths: “We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone...Have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name.”

Interesting, the shrewd psychological understanding of human sin implicit in this request: we ask to be forgiven not so that we may feel better about ourselves, or so that we may escape the consequences of our sin, or that we may be removed from danger to safety. We ask God to forgive us that we may delight in God’s will, and walk in God’s ways to the glory of God’s own name. Our delight must be in what God wants for us, and our walking on the right paths for God’s glory.

God of mercy, we are sheep of your own pasture. Forgive us for choosing to go where we know you do not want us to , for refusing to go where you would lead us. May we more and more delight in your will, and walk joyfully in your ways, to the glory of your Name.

The Signposts for June are written by Deborah Smith Douglas and originally appeared on in May 2005.