Our Good, Good Shepherd

“For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore, O sons of Jacob, you have not come to an end.”  Malachi 3:6 NKJV

Throughout Scripture, God tells us that He never changes although we certainly do. Like a good father, He tells us the Truth through His Word and then He waits for us to be obedient and follow.

Some sheep hear His voice (John 10:27) while others wander in the wilderness, subject to the elements and the many threats, such as wolves that wait to devour them.  A good shepherd is there to protect the sheep.  As long as we hang out with and listen to the Shepherd, He promises to protect us.  But as soon as we step away from Him, deciding not to listen or follow, we are now subject to what’s in the woods.

Whenever we move from well-lit, green pastures, where rest and protection reside, to the dark woods of doubt and unbelief, where there is only worry and destruction, we find the enemy!  Satan, our enemy, cannot get to us as long as we are with the Shepherd. But as soon as we step out of our Shepherd’s protection, our lives become subject to all sorts of avoidable hurts. Some of these encounters become short-term frustrations, while others have long-term consequences.  So why do we, as sheep, wander? Why do we prefer the wilderness where the wolves wait?

First of all, sheep are great at following. They are meant to follow. That doesn’t mean sheep cannot be leaders. Moses and Abraham were leaders and led many. However, like us, they were also sheep that understood that without the Good Shepherd they would not have victory.  Sheep essentially wander for three reasons.

We wander and lose our way when we fail to read God’s Word. “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. The flashlight helps me to see where I am walking. It not only shows me where to put my feet, but it also shows me where not to put my feet.” Psalm 119:105

Secondly, we were all created in His image to do good works. According to God’s Word (“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28), we are called according to God’s purpose for good works. Before we were born, our Father in Heaven prepared us for good works (“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” Ephesians 2:10).  In fact, Romans 2:28 says that ALL things will work together for good for those who have been called according to His purpose.  That means even when bad or challenging things happen––they come back to me as good.  This good in my life has taught me to trust Him more.

Lastly, we like hanging around wolves (Matthew 10:16)! Wolves seem to have fun. They have no authority, no rules! They live by the flesh and die by the flesh! “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.”  Acts 20:29 

In my 20’s, my flesh loved doing what wolves do.  However, in my heart and my spirit, I knew this wouldn’t end well.  After years of failures and rejecting God’s guidance, I realized what a fool I was to reject such a good Father’s guidance.  Having traversed a winding path in the past, I now want to be straightforward as I forge ahead. So, how do I do that?  Like all sheep, the closer one is to the Shepherd, the more protection, guidance, and rest one receives.  So how do we get better at hearing His voice?

First of all, read His Word! This is the Good Shepherd’s way of talking to us. Second, realize that He has called you for a relationship and a purpose. He has come to guide you and bless you. Third, watch out for wolves. Don’t hang around them. Wolves may seem to always be having the most fun, but these are only temporary pleasures (Hebrews 11:25). They ALL end with destruction and death. Because God, through Jesus, is a good, loving Father, and He can’t lie.  Therefore, every word in the Bible, every verse, every promise, is for His children (His sheep). All we have to do is learn to hear His voice, follow, and pray!

Stephen L. Thomas, RTM