While humans may often fail each other in their roles as shepherds and leaders, God will never fail us.
Whatever situation we may find ourselves in, whatever unfairness or hardships have come our way, or painful consequences of our own poor choices stare us in the face in the morning, the Lord has promised to never leave us alone in our trial. He is right there calling out to us, the hurt and afflicted, seeking to bandage us up and bring us to a place of rest, healing, and peace under the shadow of His wing.
As Ezekiel wrote to the exiles in Babylon, God had not given up on them, either – far from it. Even in God’s time of judgment, He was looking to restore, rebuild, and bring a complete freedom to them, a future without fear in the fullness of serenity and peace.
Ezekiel wrote of God’s loving heart:
11 “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. 12 I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. 13 I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers and in all the places where people live. 14 Yes, I will give them good pastureland on the high hills of Israel. There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in the lush pastures of the hills. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak. But I will destroy those who are fat and powerful. I will feed them, yes—feed them justice! Ezekiel 34:11-16 (NLT)
Jesus is the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy. When His hour of suffering had come, He was ready to go to the cross to lay down His life as a sacrifice to remove the sin that creates an insurmountable chasm between God and Man. He came in love for all His sheep because there was no other way for them to succeed – we are helpless without Him.
As Jesus told His disciples:
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.
17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.” John 10:14-17,27-30 (NLT)
Trials and affliction will come to us all, but the Lord has promised to deliver us from them all as we respond in faith to His loving call. Our window of opportunity to take a step of belief may come when we least expect it – it may simply be a strange feeling in the core of our spirit as we look up into the heavens one starry night and realize for the first time that the Creator of the Universe is real and loves and cares for us. Another person may first experience God in a jail cell towards the back of a prison on a hot Saturday afternoon, when suddenly the prayers of a grandparent are answered in the appearance of a volunteer outside their jail cell, sharing a divine message of love right at the moment they were about to give up on life for good.
God is infinite, so the many ways He may choose to come to us are as diverse and unique as He is. The important thing for us is to be open to Him, to listen with sincerity and willingness, and in the words of the prophet, Samuel, to respond positively when He calls:
10 And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!”
And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10 (NLT)
God’s call does not depend upon our worthiness or track record. He sees things in us that perhaps no one else can see. We may be covered with the filth of a failed life of disobedience and immorality, and drenched in alcohol or drugs, but God sees through all of that. Jesus is the remedy for whatever is holding us down. He is the true Power greater than myself who will free us from our chains and forgive us for all that we have done in the past. Are you ready for Him?
Who have been good shepherds for you in your life?
Do you know of any relatives or friends who have prayed for you or are currently praying? How has God answered their prayers?
Are you experiencing the reality of God in your life? Honesty, openness, and willingness are the keys to beginning an adventure of joy as we take our first steps of faith.
Lord, open my eyes and heart to see where and how You have been searching for me in my life. Then use me in Your search for others, today and always. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.