May 6, 2010
The Sheep and His Shepherd
Isaiah 40:1 "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."
Friend To Friend
Shepherds live with their sheep, finding places for them to eat and drink, providing shelter from the storms and protection from the heat. Sheep must eat the right amount of the right kinds of grass at the right times … or they will die. If the sheep eat too little one day and too much the next day, some of the bacteria that live in the stomach of the sheep will reproduce abnormal levels, creating toxins, which cause sudden death. This problem was even more complicated for the shepherds of the Bible. The type of shepherding referred to in the Bible is not the farming of fenced pasturelands but nomadic grazing. The shepherd had to carefully plan the path and lead the way so that the sheep had neither too little nor too much grazing and were able to get to the water hole on time.
Pastures were often lost to extreme heat, which meant the shepherd had to scour the countryside in search of green grass. Several flocks of sheep were gathered together at night in a sheltered place so that shepherds could share the watches of the night, protecting the sheep from wild animals and thieves. Good shepherds were always willing to risk their lives to save their flocks from any harm, any enemy and even from themselves.
The needs of sheep, compared to the needs of other animals, are greater because of their instinct to be afraid and when faced with a fearful situation, to run. Without a shepherd to care for the sheep, they would not last long. Sheep are dumb, can never be left alone and often stray, requiring the shepherd to find and rescue them. A shepherd never pushes his sheep but rather leads his sheep, going before them, making sure they are not walking into danger.
Let's think about the sheep you minister to as a shepherd here on earth. God calls us all in different ways to do different things…but we are all called to be a shepherd to someone. We live in a world filled with people who, like sheep, are lost, confused, hungry, lonely, and in desperate need of a Savior. I suspect many of you do feel as if you actually live with your sheep day in and day out. Everywhere you go you run into someone from your flock, your phone rings off the wall, e-mails pile up and you are constantly trying to rescue one of your sheep who always seem to be in trouble.
Personally, I definitely fit the profile of a sheep. I can't count the number of times I have stubbornly stuck to my plan, foolishly thinking that it was better than His plan, only to end up in some pit somewhere, calling for help. Psalm 40:1-3 has become my life maxim - with one exception. I rarely wait patiently! Remember, I am a sheep!
Psalm 40:1-3 "I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD."
I sometimes allow fear to drive me to a place where I am trapped by doubts and darkness … until He rescues me. I satisfy my hunger by eating the wrong things found in the wrong places at the wrong times. The result is always the same; my soul ravenous for what is good while stuffing my heart and mind with what is bad.
Like every sheep, I do not like to be pushed. Good shepherds do not push, no matter how great the temptation. A good shepherd stands in front of his sheep, gently calling their names, leading them to a place where he has already been, positioning himself between danger and his sheep.
Dear Lord, thank You for being my Shepherd. I am your lamb and I choose to follow You. Forgive me for following the wrong voices instead of listening for Yours above all others. I want to trust You, Lord, for every need … and I am so needy. Right now, I surrender my will to Yours and celebrate You in my life as my Shepherd.
In Jesus' name,
Now It's Your Turn
· Read Psalm 23 every day this week.
· Think back to the times when you have strayed from God's leadership and He has lovingly reached out, drawing you to Himself. Thank God for His precious care.
· Is there anyone in your life who needs to know that they can turn to God? How can you help them?
More From The Girlfriends
When I am tired and ready to give up, I tend to withdraw from the other sheep and even from my Shepherd. Many people have somehow bought into the lie that they can make it on their own or that the rules, the commandments of God, do not necessarily apply to them … just those other sheep. The longer I live, the more I realize just how much we need each other and how much we all need Him. When will I learn that I cannot do life on my own - as a sheep and without a shepherd?
Do you know Jesus Christ? Is He your Shepherd? Today, I encourage you to surrender all you know about yourself to all you know about God. He will meet you there!
Need encouragement? Check out my weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. Join women from across the world as we study God's plan for life.
Check out my book, Escaping the Stress Trap. It is based on Psalm 23 and will help you discover how to manage the stress in your life instead of allowing it to manage you. Gain a new perspective of your Shepherd and the joy of being His lamb.
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Originally published Thursday, 06 May 2010.