EARTH: Following The Good Shepherd by Francine Rivers

Reflections on How God Speaks Through Nature

Following The Good Shepherd by Francine Rivers

From: Earth Psalms

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.  No one can snatch them away from me.
(John 10:27-28)

In scripture, God often refers to his people as sheep – which made me wonder what attributes I share with the reputedly dumb animal.

Sheep are born with the strong instinct to follow other sheep.  Put a bold or curious one out in front and the rest will trail behind.  It’s called “flock mentality.”  All is well as long as the leader isn’t heading for a patch of poisonous weeds or craggy cliffs.

Sheep are gregarious.  They stay in a group while grazing and are highly agitated with left alone.  They’re vulnerable too; when on their own, they fall prey to predators.  They’re easily frightened and quickly scattered.

Sheep never walk a straight line.  Instead, they wander and turn, looking behind them with first one eye and then the other.  They also depend heavily on their acute hearing and keen sense of smell to warn them of enemies.

Do any of those traits sound familiar?  People too have a flock mentality – only we call it peer pressure.  If we don’t pay close attention to our leaders, we’ll follow them right into new ideas that pull us away from God’s truth.  Just like sheep, we are vulnerable when isolated, giving in more easily to temptation.  We’re prone to wander away from God and the church, spending less time in the Word, watching our lives unravel, and even blaming God for abandoning us when we were the ones who left.  We need the accountability that comes from the body of Christ.  Only then will we remember to look for answers in the Lord alone.  Finally, like sheep, we face danger, so we need to be alert.  Reading scripture will keep our spiritual eyes and ears sharp.

I am a sheep!  I’m going to stay in God’s fold and stick close to the Good Shepherd  Where he goes, I’m going.  I’ll listen for his voice and run after him when he calls.  When the enemies come (false teachers, God mockers), I will be safe in him.  No one can ever snatch me away from my Shepherd.  And when the day is over, I will lay my head on his feet and smile, content and full of thanksgiving for the new dawn coming.

REFLECT

Which of the sheep characteristics do you identify with?  When are you tempted to wander away from God or fall into “flock mentality”?  What spiritual dangers do you face?

APPLY

Read one of more of the following passages: John 10:1-18, 25-30; Psalm 23; Ezekiel 34:11-16.  Take some time to consider the idea of Jesus as our Good Shepherd, who knows our weaknesses and yet diligently cares for us.  Think about how you can better recognize and follow his voice.

CONNECT WITH GOD

Lord God, I know that I am like a sheep in so many ways.  I am weak, easily frightened, a follower, vulnerable, with a tendency to wander away from what is good.  Thank you for being the Good Shepherd who protects and cares for his sheep.  Help me to train myself to know your voice and listen for it.  May I always stay close to you, my guide and protector.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
(Psalm 23:1-2)

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