Saturday, February 14, 2015

Our Shepherd

Below are some things that God has been teaching me in a devotional book called Worship the King.  Most of it is paraphrased so that it won’t be so long.

You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.  Ezekiel 34:31

Many of us may not realize how important the job of the shepherd is.  We all know that the shepherds job is to watch the sheep.  If a sheep gets lost it is a blow to the family income in terms of wool, milk, meat, and generations of offspring.  The danger of wolves lurking around ready to snatch one of the sheep are one of the reasons there needs to be a shepherd.  It is also important that the shepherd is with the sheep all the time so that the sheep will know his voice and so that he can protect them from danger.  Sheep aren’t the smartest of animals either.  Why would someone choose such a thankless job for such a creature as a sheep?  I would think that for most shepherds it is not their career of choice but a job given to them out of obligation from the family.   

I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord.  I will search for the lost and bring back the strays.  I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.  Ezekiel 34:15-16

Jesus is our Shepherd.  He loves his position as shepherd.  We, his sheep, are the object of his affection.  We can wonder what would draw Him to such mangy creatures and argue that we are not worthy, but that doesn’t change what He has declared of Himself.  He’s a Shepherd who loves His job, and He loves it because of His affection for the sheep in His flock. 
This is one of the hardest things for Christians to grasp.  Even though we talk about God’s love a lot we don’t really understand it or at times even believe it.  God delights in His sheep.  He treasures them.  He adores them.  As sheep, our eyes tend to focus on our surroundings more than on the Shepherd, and our ears listen to other voices .  We are prone to wander according to our mood of the moment.  That can be very dangerous.  The world doesn’t seem very safe.  And, being sheep, we usually focus on the world , not the shepherds.  We feel defenseless against the predators, and the slopes seem awfully slippery. 
The Shepherd  doesn’t want us to be afraid.  He would say that we are perfectly safe already.  He won’t let us wander away too far.  He can see the predators coming from miles away, and He knows exactly where He is leading us.  At the end of wandering, there’s a safe pasture with flowing streams and ample grass.  The fears that seem so large to us are extremely small to Him. 
Living with that understanding is a huge part of what faith is all about.  When the sheep get a  glimpse of the Shepherd’s perspective, fear vanishes.  More than that, when the sheep get a glimpse of the Shepherds heart, fear becomes completely illogical.  A sheep that remains in ignorance spends its life in fear and apathy.  A sheep that trusts its Shepherd  implicitly becomes a noble creature of confidence and purpose.  And every member of the flock must decide which it wants to be.

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