‘Trust the Shepherd who named you’

Published 4:35 pm Thursday, April 28, 2016

“My sheep, hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” — John 10:27.

There is a legend told of shepherds in Israel, the geographic constraints of caring for a herd in the rough terrain cause the shepherd to often times lead his flock through narrow spaces and challenging paths.

Yet, even with these challenges, he never drives the sheep the shepherd always leads.

The shepherd, therefore, uses the pasture not only as a place of grazing but also an arena wherein he may become intimately acquainted with the sheep, and they with him. I once read of a man who traveled to Israel to see the landscape where so much of biblical literature took place.

While there he came across a man leading a flock of sheep through a crowd. However, instead of leading, he was driving the sheep from behind, he was not speaking to them he was prodding them with a stick trying to hurry the animals along.

Astounded, having know the legend, he approached the man. Puzzled, he asked the man, “Shepherd. I’ve always been told that a shepherd does not drive the sheep, he leads them. Is this not true?” To which, the man replied to the tourist, “Shepherd? Sir, I am the butcher.”

A humorous, but insightful thought.

The shepherd leads his sheep because he cares for the sheep. He often names them, and trusts that they want to follow him. They have learned from experience that when they have fallen he has lifted them up, when the sheep has been wounded he cares for them, and when one is lost he searches until he finds it.

The butcher, drives the sheep, because he cares not for them.

I encounter many Christians who neglect in their daily lives the simplicity of spending time with Jesus, the good Shepherd. Some, because they see him as the butcher, a task master with an agenda.

Some because they can’t see the value in the simplicity and safety of being acquainted with his voice.

Either way, the truth is, there is nothing that is more natural and fulfilling than for us to lean on our caregiver.

The time of needing direction is not the time to learn to be lead, it is far more fruitful in the field where there is safe room to roam. It would be dangerous for the sheep to navigate rough terrain if they have never learned to trust the Shepherd’s command.

However, the life of devotion in the believer is not a means to an end, it is the end itself. For this purpose man was created, to know and to then in response worship God. For this, Jesus died to restore us to this beautiful relationship that we were made for. Take the example of the sheep they don’t follow the shepherd because they are concerned with the destination. They simply follow the shepherd because the have found comfort, protection and love in him.

Maybe you, reading this, are on rough terrain, the edge of a what seems like a cliff. Trust His leading. Trust the Shepherd who named you and loves you. Or maybe you find yourself far from the Shepherd alone in the wilderness.

David Malcom is the pastor of Trinity Gospel Church. He can be contacted at davidmalcom75@gmail.com.