The Shepherd’s Crucible
Shepherding for the 21st century, even given all of the latest technological advancements, is no easy task.
Aside from fending off wild animal attacks in the countryside, the newest generation of shepherds need to shear their fluffy friends without cutting the skin, feel the udder in case of mastitis, and even hook up the animals to hi-tech milking machines. And the small creatures often squirm every which way because they do not understand why they are being put through these trials.
This actually might sound less than difficult to some, but the job is much more than knowing how to use electric tools on a moving animal; the profession requires that each shepherd thoroughly know his or her herd literally inside and out!
Similarly, Jesus oversees this human flock with an omniscient eye. Every blemish and infection is of concern to our Creator, but oftentimes when the Spirit attempts to get us back to health we try to squirm out of a guiding grasp. And we can escape, because our Shepherd allows us to make the choices we want to make.
Sometimes we would rather frolic and keep wearing the old self that needs to be sheared. But by shedding the old self, accepting the Shepherd’s loving use of the electric clippers and healing hands, we can be a beautiful and productive flock!
Connecting: Can Psalm 23’s valley of the shadow of death be more than a near encounter with physical death? What did David mean by this?
Sharing: How would you feel being sat down for a banquet and anointed with oil…in front of all your enemies?
- Unworthy and embarrassed, I’d keep my head low
- Confused, I wouldn’t know what to say or where to look
- Appreciative, I’d spout gratitude and praises for the Host
- Haughty, I’d smirk at those who thought they were better than me
- Pity, and I’d try to make room for them
Applying: While not all of us are spiritually endowed with the gift of pastoral care, we are asked to shepherd, if you will, to those we consider less than friends (Romans 12:18-21). Prayerfully make an effort to bless one of these people and note their response(s).