1 I assure you that whoever doesn’t enter into the sheep pen through the gate but climbs over the wall is a thief and an outlaw. 2 The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The guard at the gate opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 Whenever he has gathered all of his sheep, he goes before them and they follow him, because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger but will run away because they don’t know the stranger’s voice.”
Ezekiel, a Hebrew prophet in the dark days of their exile in Babylon, said God promised to be a good shepherd who would “seek out the lost, bring back the strays, bind up the wounded, and strengthen the weak” (Ezekiel 34:16). Jesus claimed that image. He consistently reached out to those who weren’t sure of God’s love. He healed physical and mental wounds, and specialized in calling the outcasts and the strugglers to follow him.
Loving God, thank you for leading me every day. Even if I struggle to hear your voice, I trust that you’re there as the shepherd of my soul. Help me to find the path you’ve set before me. Amen.
Who are you following?
For me, I follow my son Emmett around the house a lot. He just learned to walk all by himself. Less than a month ago the only way he could walk was if he was holding my hand. It went from him following my lead to me following his very quickly. I’m realizing now that I took those sweet moments for granted. He walks around aimlessly right now, just exploring every nook and cranny of our house. As he now stomps his little feet against our wood floor with his hands in the air for balance, I catch myself beaming at him with such joy.
I like to think Jesus has similar feelings about us when we decide to only follow his lead. I remember my 6th grade self, deciding to follow Jesus for the rest of my life and entering the gate through him. It’s been a journey since then. I can look back and see the moments I decided I could do life on my own and point to where Jesus showed up to bring me back. Or the times I felt so tired and needed peace. Jesus showed up in those moments too.
His voice reaches me differently in different phases of life. I feel like at times it is blaringly obvious and other times I have to sit with it to figure out where Jesus is wanting me to go.
As I continue this journey following the good shepherd, I’m going to forge on just like my son does. Hands up for balance and stomping on the wood floor with full trust that I’m going to get to where Jesus is leading me.
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