14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
John 10: 14-15
Let’s talk about sheep.
Weird topic, I know. I’ve been telling myself the same thing. You would not believe me if I told you that ever since this summer, I have not stopped hearing wise words about sheep. Out of all the things the Lord could be laying on my heart, He chose sheep. Most of the verses or passages that I have read lately have mentioned sheep. Many of the books that I’m reading reference these animals. My friends will randomly start talking about sheep. My team name for a camp this summer was “The Sheep.” I hope you find this as weird as I do.
I believe the Lord works in three’s to get your attention, or at least mine. For example, if I were praying about something and the Lord sent three different people to speak the same words of wisdom into my life, I would feel inclined to follow those words. He makes sure we are aware of His everyday presence in our lives. For this particular sheep situation, I guess I’m just not getting the point, because there has been WAY more than three nudges.
“Okay Lord, I get the picture, but what’s so significant about sheep?”
This is exactly how I went to the Lord with my confusion. Why sheep? Why were these super dumb, needy animals showing up in my life all of a sudden? Well, it turns out that sheep are, in fact, very dumb. No, like very very dumb. Think of the dumbest person you know, they’re dumber. Okay, now that you’ve got the point, picture that very dumb sheep as you. I know we’ve all heard about The Good Shepherd representing God and the sheep, His followers, but rather than focusing on the shepherd aspect, or the characteristics of Jesus for that matter, I believe He is trying to show me the true characteristics of the sheep. You and me.
First of all, we are all in desperate need of a savior, a shepherd who can lead us when we’ve gone astray. We’re all extremely unintelligent compared to the indescribable intellect of The Father. As sheep, we not only need physical guidance, but we also need a fully functioning “brain,” if you will, to help us make healthy decisions. Sheep never learn from their mistakes. There’s always that one misfit that continues to run off, every single day, almost consistently. Does this sound familiar? Maybe it’s because we never learn from our mistakes. We are selfish creatures, primarily seeking our own agenda and not the holy and perfect will of God. We keep attempting to run away, only to be placed back into His love and grace. In fact, we’ve never not been offered this amazing grace, we’re just too dumb and blind to see it right in front of us.
This reminds me of the song Reckless Love by Cory Asbury. The phrase in the song, “leaves the ninety-nine,” is such an incredible explanation, or metaphor, for the truth of His desires for us. Ultimately He is willing and able to sacrifice all ninety-nine other sheep to seek just the one out. Luke 15:4-7 reiterates this very concept:
4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
He longs to find the lost and save those who have strayed. We think we know best, but then He graciously picks us up out of the pit, we dug ourselves, and continues to be a faithful and invested Father. John 10 mentions the fact that the sheep hear and instantly know His voice. This is exactly what I needed to hear. The more we are surrounded by the wisdom of the Lord, the more we are able to hear and discern His voice. We can’t expect to recognize His voice in our lives, let alone comprehend it, if we are not diligently seeking to familiarize ourselves with His character in His written Word.
I challenge you – whatever stage of life you are currently in – accept the herding. Without guidance, distractions will overcome, ignorance will rule, and you’ll never get to your final destination.
Be like sheep. Be herded by Him. Allow Him to rescue you from your own selfish, crazy journeys that you take. He knows what’s best for you at any given point in your life. Be fully committed to being a follower of the One who follows you when you stray consistently. Listen to His voice. Know His voice and learn from it.
Be present and expectant, never doubting whether He will take care of you. If you know His voice, you can know, for certain, that He’s there and you’re safe.
Accept your lack of holy intelligence and place your worries and wonderings at the feet of Jesus, the only one who patiently waits for His ONE lost sheep.