What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? (Matthew 18:12 ESV)
In our culture, being a shepherd is not on the top 10 careers of 2012. So this is hard to picture. What makes a good shepherd? I had to do a little digging to find out.
Shepherds do the following (from www.thebridgeportage.org):
- Care for the weak and the strong – directing them to good food, safe water and reliable paths.
- Lead from behind, rather the front (that’s where the weak usually are).
- Are self-sacrificing and learn to live on little.
- Are meditative and thoughtful (from silence wisdom comes).
- Learn survival skills in the trenches, sometimes while being harassed or pursued by enemies or wild animals.
- Usually get there the hard way and develop skills and patience in the field.
How did you do? Would you make a good shepherd? As you can see, it takes dedication to be one. When a predator threatens the flock, a hireling will run but a shepherd will stay and protect the sheep.
Besides, a shepherd needs all those qualities because the sheep are not the smartest of the animals (now I really know God has a sense of humor in referring to us as “sheep“). They are just wont to follow along to where ever the sheep in front of them happens to be going.
Then sometimes the stubborn ones run away.
I heard before that when a shepherd finds a runaway sheep, he breaks it’s legs so it won’t do it again. Sounds painful, doesn’t it? However, while the sheep is healing, the shepherd carries it on his shoulders the entire time.
It paints a similar picture for us sheep and our Shepherd. We tend to run away from Him, too, don’t we? We get spooked by the enemy. We get distracted by the offerings of this world. Or we think we are no longer good enough and worthy to be called His. Whatever it is, it is comforting to read that He will leave the ninety-nine to find the one missing.
And when He finds the little runaway, verse 13 tells us: And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. He rejoices! He is not waiting with arms crossed and a severe expression of displeasure. Every sheep is important to a shepherd. Much like every person is important to our God.Yes, sometimes He breaks us so that we will stop running away but isn’t it always for our own good? Never are we the closest to Him than when we are broken.
How has He broken you? To me, there have been a few instances here and there – I’m one of the stubborn ones. But the turning point to me was was when my Mom died. In fact, I am writing this on the day of the 8th anniversary of her death.
I was heading towards the wrong path and did not even know it. The issue of my salvation was at stake. Our Good Shepherd broke me but He also carried me on His shoulders. It was during this time that I realized the only thing that matters is the eternal destination. Where are we going after we die? Because everything on earth is temporary – from the people we love to the possessions we have. It was a hard lesson to learn and quite painful.
But He never let go until I healed.
I learned so much from that time of recuperation. I walk more closely to Him now. I listen to His voice. I still veer off the path sometimes but always within reach. My family’s eternal destiny has been altered for the better because of that time of breaking. Daily, I know the Good Shepherd loves me.
And He loves you, too. If you have veered off, just cry out to Him. He will find you and carry you in His shoulders. There may be pain involved but believe me, there is no better place to be.
[Reading from Blue Letter Bible – Chronological Plan]