Readings: Psalm 23, Isaiah 40:9-11, Ezekiel 34, John 10:11-30
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Oh, the joy that it is to find in Christ all the gentleness and compassion, provision and selfless protection that is representative of a good shepherd - to hear His voice, and know that it is Him, and that in His presence there is no danger.
In my shepherding experience, sheep are creatures ruled by fear. Their behavior will usually be decided by how scared they are (rather than what is reasonable), because they are creatures of prey. And in my life experience, I've found that humans are not much different - we live most of our lives by the laws of fear, uncertainty, weakness, and defeat, the timid prey of a cutthroat spiritual war.
And just when we think we can't continue, when we have been scattered from all that is restful and run down to the point of collapse by the constant pursuit of the Enemy, the voice of the Good Shepherd calls our name. His is a voice that we recognize and know intimately, because it belongs to the One who "will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick" (Ezekiel 34:16a), the One who "will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom" (Isaiah 40:11b) - the One who "lays down His life for the sheep" (John 10:11b).
And in that moment, this heart of fear is transformed into a heart of faith, because it is Him, and He is safe. He can be trusted to lead and guide, to comfort and heal, to provide and protect - even to die, when necessary, so that we will have life.
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand."