Sheep follow one another. They will wander into areas that may lead to danger, or cause them to hunger or thirst. Sheep, left on their own, will graze the same area over and over until there is nothing left to eat, gnawing the grass right down to the dirt. As they graze and re-graze one area, they will make ruts in the dirt.
A shepherd’s reputation is based on the appearance of his pastures as well as the condition of the sheep. If the pastures are run down, not very green, filled with deep ruts, then it is safe to assume that he is not a good shepherd. The same could be said of the shepherd if the sheep are not well cared for. They need to be constantly tended to, groomed, fed, and protected. The shepherd’s reputation is on the line.
When sheep are led by a good shepherd, he/she will drive them into fresh pastures regularly. He will have a pattern whereby he leads his sheep from one area of new grasses to another so that they are continually fed, and minimally damaging the land. The shepherd will know his land well in order to drive or lead them each day into an area that would be a benefit to his sheep. He will know right where the watering holes are as well.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Psalm 23:3
Jesus is our Shepherd. He leads us. However, we don’t always trust Him (or anyone else) to lead us where we think best. Instead, like sheep, we will often stay in one pasture, working ourselves along the same paths turning them into ruts.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6
We can be stubborn, prideful, stiff-necked, filled with self. We often blindly follow another or are determined to go our own way.
There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12
Looking around at others near to us or gazing into a mirror back at ourselves, we might see abuse of drugs or alcohol, sexual promiscuity, dead-end careers or jobs, wrong or falling-apart relationships, family members gone astray, following others into New Age religions, or so much more.
Can we ask: Where have I strayed away from the LORD?
The LORD calls us into fresh pastures…each day…for nourishment and refreshment.
It is important to note that it is for the LORD’s Name sake that He leads us. Our well-being, our peacefulness and joy reflect upon His character, His ownership, His management, His protection of us. If we claim be to Christ’s, His image would be tarnished by our behavior or thought patterns when we go astray.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
Am I willing to be led? Am I willing to follow Him to fresh pasture for nourishment?
Am I willing to love Christ and others more than myself?
By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 1 John 3:16
Am I willing to be set apart for Him?
Am I willing to release what I might call my “rights”?
Jesus did not say this would be easy.
And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. Mark 4:17
“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Am I willing to rest in being His and not mine?
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
Am I willing to be gracious and thankful for all situations, no matter what comes my way?
Am I willing to have no self-will, but have His will for my life?
Am I willing to follow Christ to obey all He asks of me?
“And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts 5:32
…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13
LORD, I pray that I will be like a lamb that jumps and plays, that brings a smile due to joy-filled leaps into the Shepherd’s arms. I want to be filled with that joy because You loved me first.
LORD, I thank You for caring for me always. Thank You for loving me. Even while I strayed, going my own way time and time again, You waited patiently for me. Once I became Yours, I wanted to be Your sheep. I have to admit that it has not been easy, but I love You so and want to please You more than anything. May I walk in the steps You have prepared for me and stay close. May I feed within the pastures where You lead me and drink from the water You know is thirst-quenching and safe. LORD, You are my Shepherd. Praises to the Shepherd of Israel. In Your Name I pray. Amen.