June 12, 2010

The Good Shepherd; The Wandering Sheep

In the gospel of John (chapter 10), Jesus Christ describes himself as "The Good Shepherd."

Those listening to him speak understood the powerful meaning of the analogy he used. He is the Good Shepherd: the One who never abandons the sheep, the One who leads the sheep daily and hourly, the One who fights off the predators, the One who provides food and care for those in his charge.

Despite my best efforts and the kindnesses of others, I am sometimes a wandering sheep.

There is no logical reason for my "wanderer" status. I can truthfully say I have never regretted following the directions, teaching, and world-view of Jesus Christ. I cannot recall a time when I was worse off for doing what he wanted. In summary: when there is a conflict, he is always right and I am always wrong. I know this--from Scripture, from observation, and from my own experience. Still, from time to time, I wander.

Perhaps it is in the nature of sheep to wander. Sheep are not known as particularly intelligent creatures, and they can be stubborn. Still, they are totally dependent upon the care of the shepherd and have no true defenses for protection against a predator. Sheep need a shepherd.

Sheep need a shepherd, and this is why I am sometimes amused when I listen to speakers and teachers promote the idea that we can manage ourselves, our affairs, and our lives. Can I really believe I am qualified to be the "master of my fate, the captain of my soul"? I believed it when I was twenty-five years old and ignorantly fearless; many years later, I know it was never true.

He is the Good Shepherd. He is good because he loves patiently and endlessly, he plans ahead for situations and conditions I could never image, he knows the end from the beginning and still endures my questioning and lack of faith, he sees me as I was created to be, not only as I am in this moment. He sacrifically gave his life for the sheep, and took on his life again for our permanent well-being and protection.

I have one thing working in my favor, despite my wandering. I can hear his voice; I know his voice. Jesus says his sheep hear his voice, and will not follow a stranger's voice. My ability to hear his voice is based on his power, not my wisdom, and for this I am grateful. I know his voice, and hear it. He assures that those who follow him can and will hear him.

He is the Good Shepherd.

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